Usain Bolt at the launch of Nitro Athletics in Melbourne (© Getty Images)
Nine-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt will compete and captain the ‘Bolt All-Stars’ in a new sports entertainment series set to revolutionise global track and field.
A high-energy team-based competition, Nitro Athletics will see the stars of Australian and international athletics compete across three nights at Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium in February 2017.
Nitro Athletics Melbourne will feature six teams of 24 athletes (12 women and 12 men). Teams will come from Australia and overseas and will be announced in the coming weeks.
Nitro Athletics will not just feature traditional events; it will be a different spin on traditional athletics and will include a mix of power, endurance, technique and teamwork disciplines across sprints, distance, field and para-athletics events. Mixed events and relays will also feature in the Nitro programme as teams battle for points and the Nitro Athletics Melbourne crown.
Nitro Athletics Melbourne will be staged on Saturday 4 February and Thursday 9 February, with a final on Saturday 11 February.
The first and third nights of action will feature the same programme with the Thursday night programme offering a selection of alternative events.
Bolt said the concept could help take athletics into the future.
“This will be track and field as it’s never been seen before and that’s why I’m involved, not only as a competitor, but also as a team captain,” said the multiple world record-holder, who has never raced in Australia.
“Nitro Athletics is what track and field needs – a fresh way to present the sport and I can’t wait to be back in Melbourne to share Nitro Athletics with the fans in February.”
Athletics Australia President Mark Arbib, a driving force behind Nitro Athletics, said the series will aim to excite existing fans while taking the sport to new audiences.
“Nitro Athletics is the sports entertainment product track and field needs to move athletics beyond the existing format of one-day athletics meets,” said Arbib.
“Nitro Athletics will be the catalyst that will change how athletics is presented. It’s a game-changer for athletics and Athletics Australia. We want to start the global reinvigoration of athletics right here in Australia.”
“The fact that Usain and his team are so enthusiastic about the concept shows how important bringing athletics to new audiences is to Usain,” he added. “We are thrilled that he is with us.”
Athletics Australia Director and 2006 Commonwealth Games 400m champion John Steffensen said Nitro Athletics will attract global attention.
“Every show needs a headline act,” said Steffensen. “And the headline act of Nitro Athletics Melbourne is the biggest name in all of sport: Usain Bolt.”
Athletics Australia for the IAAF