The world’s fastest man Usain Bolt led his Bolt All-Stars to victory on the opening night of the inaugural Nitro Athletics teams event in Melbourne on Saturday.
The world record holder for the 100m and 200m sprints led the Bolt All Stars — including athletes from Jamaica, the USA and Kenya — against teams representing Australia, England, New Zealand, Japan and China.
The 30-year-old Jamaican sprint star ran in the final event on the programme, the 4x100m mixed relay, featuring two male and two female athletes from each team, as did fellow Jamaican Olympic gold medallist Asafa Powell.
With their captain running the unfamiliar second leg, handing over to American Jenna Prandini, the Bolt All Stars won that race to notch up their fourth outright win of the night and finish with a total of 1080 points.
“It was just a wonderful night. I was just enjoying myself from the start to the end,” Bolt said.
“Everybody was just having fun. Everybody was trying to support their teammates — going over to the long jump, to the javelin — that’s something were not really used to.”
The Australian team won three of the 12 events to sit second with 1050 points.
The two teams finished equal first in two other events while Australia’s Kurtis Marschall also tied for first place with China’s Xue Changrui in the men’s pole vault.
New Zealand won the other two events, while China finished third on the points table with 845.
“At the start (of the night) I was a little bit worried. We started kinda slow and I was talking so much smack that everyone was looking at me like ‘you’re losing’,” Bolt said.
“But we won at the end, so that’s the key thing and I’m very happy with how everything turned out.”
The winner of gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay at the past three Olympics, Bolt said he had never run a competitive race in February before, and was impressed with the form of the local athletes.
“They came out ready. Most people aren’t really at the level that they want because it’s February, but you guys were ready and that’s what we want, competition.
“So it’s fun and it was loud, so it was good.”
Bolt may have been the main attraction but the Australian athletes enjoyed accolades from the crowd of around 7,000.
Nitro Athletics involves a mixture of traditional and modified events designed to provide non-stop action over a two-hour period, with each team consisting of 12 male and 12 female athletes.
Twelve events, from mixed gender relays, to 60m and 150m sprints awarded points for each placing.
Highlights included the men’s elimination mile, which saw the last-placed runner eliminated at the end of each of the first three laps of the track.
A similar programme will be held on Thursday with the final of the three-event series at the same venue next Saturday.
More than 7,000 athletes from around the world are heading to Phuket this June to “Run Paradise” at the 2017 Laguna Phuket Marathon.
Having put Phuket on the map as a world-class sports tourism destination, the Laguna Phuket Marathon has grown to become the leading destination marathon in South East Asia and will take place 3rd and 4th June 2017, hosted by the multi award-winning integrated destination resort Laguna Phuket.
With a reputation that spans the globe, the Laguna Phuket Marathon attracts runners from more than 40 countries and has become the “must run” destination marathon in the region.
“2017 will be the 12th edition of the Laguna Phuket Marathon and it continues to go from strength-to-strength. The beautiful course, beachfront location of Laguna Phuket and its onsite resorts and facilities appeals to a diverse demographic – from families and first-timers to experienced runners,” said Mr. Roman Floesser, General Manager of the event’s organizer, Go Adventure Asia.
The Laguna Phuket Marathon offers five distances: The 2km Kids Run, 5km Run and 10.5km Run take place on Saturday 3rd June in the afternoon while the Half Marathon (21.097km) and Marathon (42.195km) take place Sunday 4th in the morning.
“This sunset to sunrise concept of splitting the distances over two days was introduced last year, and was well received. It allows us to accept more runners and provide a safe and enjoyable race experience for all participants,” added Floesser.
Sanctioned by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races, the Laguna Phuket Marathon is organised by leading sports management company Go Adventure Asia with professional timing and results by Sportstats Asia, ensuring the highest of international standards.
Early Bird rates for the 2017 Laguna Phuket Marathon are available until 28 February, 2017. Don’t miss out on discounts of up to 22%. To find out more, go to www.phuketmarathon.com/registration.
When the 17th edition of the Dubai Marathon takes place this coming weekend, the world’s richest race will spark great memories for Jos Hermens, manager of Haile Gebrselassie, the legendary Ethiopian runner who claimed three historic back-to-back victories in the city from 2008-2010.
Hermens, a former middle-distance Dutch athlete who broke the world one-hour run record in 1976, coached arguably the most recognised runner for nearly two decades and still manages Gebrselassie as director and founder of Global Sports Communication.
Although Haile brought the curtain down on his illustrious competitive career in May 2015 after the Great Manchester Run, Hermens’ interest in the January 20 race on UAE soil remains as strong as ever.
He has 12 athletes, including multiple Olympic champion and event headliner Kenenisa Bekele, under his management ranks. The Dutchman’s eye for talent is unquestionable, illustrated by the fact he first spotted Gebrselassie’s back in 1991 when he was just an unknown 18-year-old.
“Dubai is always an extra special race that Haile and I always look forward too. He always enjoys coming back in an ambassadorial role now, but such is the competitor that he is, I think when he looks back on his record there, he’d have hoped to have done even better than he did,” the 67-year-old told Sport360 from his base in Holland.
Statistically, Dubai is the fourth-fastest course in the world when the average finishing time of the men’s top 10 is considered (2:04:40), while it’s third for the women (2:20:05). Berlin, London and Chicago are all wedged into the top four along with the Emirate.
Hermens knows a thing or two about putting on a race, as his communications company organises January’s Mumbai Marathon, road races in Amsterdam and Hamburg, and the New Delhi half marathon, among others.
He is predicting a speedy battle to the finish line again on Friday, as runners saunter down Jumeirah Beach Road, past both the Burj Al Arab and Madinat Jumeirah, and then towards the marathon finale just before Dubai Police Academy.
His client, Bekele, who stormed to victory in the Berlin Marathon last September crossing the finish line in 2:03:03, just six seconds short of Dennis Kimetto’s world record (2:02:57) – is undoubtedly one of the favourites.
Dubai certainly represents unfinished business for the 34-year-old after injury forced him to pull up during his debut back in 2015.
“Dubai always attracts such a competitive field because it’s quick and it’s the best way to start the season for many athletes.
“Our athletes are expecting a very good race again and I think the course record (Ethiopia’s Tesfaye Abera 2:04:24 in 2016) could go. Sub-2.04 should be possible and it will boil down to tactics on the day.
“When the pacemakers drop out, runners start to implement their plans and between the 32-40km mark, there will be a good fight out there. The final 10km will be a real dual and it’s about who can work it well.”
Away from the elite athletes, more than 30,000 runners are expected to compete across the full marathon distance, 10km event and 4km fun run race.
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and supported by the Dubai Sports Council, the Dubai Marathon, which is in its 13th successive year with title sponsor Standard Chartered Bank, continues to expand.
“It’s been fantastic to see the growth of sport in the Middle East and the passion for running too,” said Hermens.
“We could actually do with more races, particularly 10kms and half-marathons in the Gulf, and really make the most of the cooler winter climate.
“It’s perfect weather, fast conditions and it allows athletes the chance to run and compete outside of the traditional European athletics circuit.”
From runner to coach to manager, few can attest to having had such a varied career in athletics
And pushed on what is his most memorable moment from working with leading lights of the sport on the track, there was only one answer.
In 2000, at the Sydney Olympics, Gebrselassie became the third man in history to successfully defend a 10,000m title (after Emil Zatopek and Lasse Viren).
It was a memorable race that came down to the wire. It was Haile vs Kenya’s Paul Tergat in one of the Games’ best climaxes, with the Ethiopian finishing just 0.009 seconds off his rival in an incredible finish that was actually closer than the men’s 100m final.
“There have been many, many highlights but the Sydney race stands out, with the dramatic ending, the emotion and the fact Haile was carrying an injury. It’s been a special journey and a pleasure to work with him.”
Gebrselassie has hailed Hermens, who was a 10,000m finalist at the 1976 Olympic Games, as a ‘father figure’ with the way he nurtured the running hero’s career.
And for the respected athletics manager, the Nijmegen-born man is very proud of what running’s most well-known face has achieved in his career after racing.
“Haile has set a big example and I’m very proud that he’s now Ethiopian Athletics Federation president. He’s having a big influence is his country, setting a great example to inspire young people and is doing very good things. He has many businesses and more than 2,000 people working for him.”
Away from the Dubai track, Hermens believes 2017 is a big year for athletics to rebuild its reputation following last year’s doping scandal involving Russian athletes and their blanket ban from the Rio 2016 Olympics.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe attended Global Sports Communication’s 30th anniversary in the Netherlands in April 2016 and its founder is confident the British running great can help the sport get back on track.
“I am in full support of Sebastian Coe – I think he is the best person to clean up our sport, accept the challenges and put more rules and regulations in place.
“Athletics needs more time with the Russian situation but I think we are getting back to where we need to be and the future is a lot brighter than it was this time last year.”