Racers strikes Gold

Racers strikes Gold

Mills foresees bright future as Racers Grand Prix achieves prestigious IAAF Gold status

Observer staff reporter

Friday, January 24, 2020

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When Glen Mills and his Racers Track Club team initiated the Racers Grand Prix in 2016, their main objective was to create another opportunity for Jamaica's elite and developing athletes to compete against international competition.

But given its top-class organisation and appeal, the Racers Grand Prix surpassed expectations over the years, to the point where it was once voted the most outstanding one-day meet in the region and rivalled many World Challenge or Diamond League events on the international track and field calendar.

In its fifth staging, the Racers Grand Prix has again broken new barriers, having been promoted from an IAAF Area Permit Meet to elite company in the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold Series for the next 10 years, it was announced at a launch at Jamaica Pegasus hotel yesterday.

The Continental Gold level is the highest in the competition series and one level below the Diamond League.

With its new Gold status, the Racers Grand Prix, scheduled for June 13, is now the second-highest meet within North America, only surpassed by the Prefontaine Classic in the United States.

It also places Kingston as one of only 10 cities worldwide that will host a meet in the series, and the only city selected in this hemisphere.

Mills, the Racers Grand Prix chairman, credits the promotion to the hard work of the committee in delivering exceptional quality and organisation of the meet.

Having already demonstrated to the world Jamaica's capabilities to produce excellence, Mills believes that with continued commitment and the impending remodelling of the National Stadium, the Racers Grand Prix can go on to achieve Diamond League status.

“Such an accomplishment would make it possible for Kingston to host the World Athletics Championships. I am sure with the passion we have for the sport of athletics, such an event would energise the country, as you would witness at our annual Boys' and Girls' Championship.

“Many remember the last world event here in 2002 when we witnessed the birth of a legend (Usain Bolt), so it is imperative that we continue to succeed. I am therefore making a strong appeal to corporate Jamaica for them to come on board and to support us financially and in any other service that they can give us to continue to excel in this sport of track and field. I'm also looking forward to maximum support from the Jamaican spectators,” Mills noted.

Under its new classification, Racers Grand Prix will be organised and conducted in the format of the Continental Tour Gold Series and will be televised in 100 countries across continents.

With that in mind, 14 events will be contested, seven classified as core events, and seven as discretionary. The core events are 100m, 200m for men and women; discus throw for men and women and triple jump for women.

While the 200m, discus and triple jump have been dropped from the Diamond League series, competitors in these events will earn points towards competing at the Diamond League final.

Other events to be contested at the spectacular one-day event are the 400m, 400m hurdles for men and women, 100m hurdles for women and 110 metre hurdles and long jump for men.

Mills explained how the events were selected for the Racers Grand Prix.

“They (World Athletics) sent us the core events, which are the events that they have removed from the Diamond League. But because they want to add it to the finals, it is mandatory at all the meets to put it on so that the athletes have the opportunity to compete in those events.

“The rest of the events are up to us, so we set the other events around the core events to come up with a package,” he shared.

Over the last four staging, Racers Grand Prix attracted a host of stars, including several Olympic and World champions, along with five record holders.

According to Mills this year is expected to be no different as over 200 athletes have so far expressed interest in being a part of the meet, which is once again expected to bring Kingston to life.

Multiple World and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, World and Olympic 400m record holder Wayde Van Niekerk from South Africa, and American Kendra Harrison, the current 100m hurdles world record holder, are among the names already in the pile.

Jamaica's World long jump champion Tajay Gayle and compatriots Yohan Blake, Danielle Williams, Rushell Clayton, Christopher Taylor, Akeem Bloomfield, and Demish Gaye are among the others, along with South African Commonwealth champion Akani Simbine and American World champion Noah Lyles.

However, with more world-class athletes expected to join the list and Racers Grand Prix inability to facilitate all the athletes, Mills pointed out that participants will be selected on merit.

“Priority will be given to world rating level athletes,” he declared.

“Secondly, we want to have a Jamaican content in each race, so we are going to reserve some lanes for Jamaicans and at least one lane where a development athlete will get an opportunity to compete,” Mills continued.

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