New meets offer alternatives to Europe in Games run-up

Fri May 6, 2016 2:19pm EDT
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By Gene Cherry

(Reuters) - New opportunities are popping up for North American Olympic standouts and hopefuls to compete closer to home in the build-up to August's Rio Games.

Four new U.S. and Caribbean meetings have joined the North America schedule, providing alternatives to traveling to Europe for competitions and offering athletes a chance to be fresher for the Olympics.

Already world record holders Usain Bolt, Ashton Eaton and Jenn Suhr have agreed to participate in one or more of the events, organizers said.

Jamaican Bolt, who typically divides his early schedule between North America and Europe, will help launch the Racers Grand Prix in Kingston on June 11.

The world's fastest man also has a Caribbean race in the Cayman Islands (May 14), his agent told Reuters.

In the U.S., the American Track League is adding a second meeting, July 23 in Houston, and new ventures the Boston Games (June 17-18) and the July 29 TrackTown Summer Series in Eugene, Oregon are hoping to boost a sport sagging in fan interest.

"The United States is the country that puts the most money into sports," Track League founder and agent Paul Doyle told Reuters, yet little of it goes for track and field competitions.

"We want to bring track and field back to America in such a way that people want to be involved in it."   Continued...