The Nitro Athletics series promises an athletics revolution when it kicks off in Melbourne, Australia, on February 4th. This is why it should be electric.
A whole new algorithm
Nitro Athletics is not a traditional athletics meeting. Billed as a “high-energy team-based competition”, there will be six teams of 24 athletes (12 women, 12 men) competing in a programme designed to test power, technique, endurance and teamwork.
The competition will be spread over three nights on the 4th, 9th and 11th February at Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium. Events include traditional races varying in length from 60m-800m, as well as pole vault, long jump and javelin contests. There will also be medley relays, hurdle relays, three minute runs and elimination races.
The scoring system is based on individual results and combined placings and performances. Further drama is injected with power plays, turbo charges and chances to steal points.
Fastest man alive
Every track meet needs a sprinkling of stardust. In Usain Bolt, who will captain the Bolt’s All-Stars team, Nitro Athletics has attracted the shiniest of them all.
“This will be track and field as it’s never been seen before,” the fastest athlete in the world said at the event’s launch in October.
The All-Stars roster will be made up of international athletes, and names already on the team sheet include Olympic champions such as Kerron Clement, Dawn Harper-Nelson and Asafa Powell. Captain Bolt will also compete for the first time on Australian soil.
The 'Bolt All-Stars' team for @nitro_aths will be announced on January 25. Who would you like to see on it?— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) January 12, 2017
The other five teams will be made up of athletes from Australia, China, England, Japan and New Zealand.
Teams will bring together star quality and emerging talent. The Australian team includes 16 Olympians and Paralympians, including multiple world championship medallist long jumper Fabrice Lapierre and rising stars such as teenage sprinter Jack Hale.
“It’s an amazing opportunity – it’s going to be huge for me and my development of my career going forward,” Hale, 18, said.
Though Bolt’s All-Stars will be the team to beat, there’s plenty of anticipation for the clash between the host nation and traditional rivals England, whose team will be captained by 2008 Olympic 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu.
“It’s a great rivalry that has stood the test of time, going back to the days of Roger Bannister and John Landy,” said Nitro Athletics ambassador John Steffenson. “The Australians respect their English competitors, but they certainly don’t like losing to them.”
It’s always sunny in Australia
Australia has a proud athletics history, but the outdoor meetings it hosts sometimes struggle for attention because they jar with the traditional indoor and cross country seasons that dominate the athletics calendar at the start of the year.
There is no argument that Nitro Athletics has created a buzz around the Australian outdoor season like never before. Furthermore, it takes place just after the conclusion of the Australian Open in tennis – also held in Melbourne – ensuring local sports fans can get a full hit of international action.
Leaders and top administrators across athletics have made multiple calls for the sport to innovate. Unsurprising, then, that Nitro Athletics has received the support of IAAF President Sebastian Coe.
“Nitro Athletics is a great example of what can be done and what needs to be done to revolutionise how we present our sport and how our fans connect with the sport and the athletes,” said Coe, who will provide further backing by attending the event.
Traditionalists might baulk at the departure from the staid set-up of old-school track and field, but innovation is necessary to keep pace with the ever-changing sports landscape.