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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Bolt to run in Nitro Athletic Series in Melbourne - February 2017

Bolt to run in Nitro Athletic Series in Melbourne - February 2017

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Usain Bolt confirmed to run in Australia this summer

By Michael Gleeson
November 4 2016

The fastest man the world has seen, the greatest athlete ever, Usain Bolt, has confirmed he will race in Melbourne this summer.

During the Rio Olympics Bolt had flagged his interest in coming to Australia to be part of the radical new Nitro athletics series but it was not until this week that details - and funding - was confirmed and he agreed to compete.

The Nitro series will be an early season start for Bolt ahead of what was thought likely to be his final major international event, the world championships in London. However in a TV interview on Thursday at Oaks Day, Bolt said he had not yet ruled out competing on the Gold Coast at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.   

Athletics Australia is still scrambling to pull together the new Nitro series in time but securing the biggest name in the world was the first and most important signing. 

Details of the new Nitro series are scant but the three-meet series will be staged in Melbourne between February 4 and 11.   

It is as yet unknown if Bolt will run all of the individual sprint events or just a relay.

The meets will be at the small Lakeside Athletics Stadium which holds about 12,000 people.

It was initially forecast to be a four-meet series across two cities involving eight teams from different regions of the world but the tight time frame for the inaugural series means that initially it will involve six teams and be run over three meets in Melbourne only.

"Nitro Athletics is a gamechanger for athletics and Athletics Australia, we want to start the global reinvigoration of athletics right here in Australia," AA president Mark Arbib said.

The Nitro series will be a Twenty20 cricket style adaptation for athletics with an abbreviated suite of events in a two-hour package with athletes competing for points in teams rather than just as individuals.

Bolt rival, American Justin Gatlin, had said in Rio he was interested in competing but as yet he has not been signed and no other international athletes are confirmed.

Melbourne has been chosen to host the series primarily after investment from the Victorian government.

The newly established Visit Victoria, which replaced Victorian Major Events Company, was recently given an extra  $80 million to draw major events to Melbourne and athletics has been able to access some of that cash.

"Victoria is where sport's biggest names strut their stuff. We're an annual playground for Roger Federer and Serena Williams, we've had Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronda Rousey and we're about to welcome the greatest of them all," Philip Dalidakis the acting Tourism and Major Events minister said. 

The Nitro series replaces the regular series of the athletics season of track classics in each city. The state championships will substitute for these national meets.

Sydney's only other key meet other than the NSW state championships will be the national titles in early April

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