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Usain Bolt the power behind inaugural Nitro Athletics event
The first edition of the Nitro Athletics series at Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium yesterday evening (4th February) demonstrated the star power of global athletics superstar Usain Bolt.
Billed as an event that will “revolutionise global track and field”, the inaugural Nitro Athletics presented a spin on traditional athletics with six teams representing nations across the world in an unusual mix of traditional and hybrid events, including the 100 metre, the relay and the long jump.
On a night of big events in the Victorian capital, with the Melbourne A-League derby, a Bruce Springsteen concert and a free-to-enter AFL Women’s fixture nearby, a near capacity crowd of 7,039 spectators watched the Bolt All Stars win on the night with 1080 points, 30 clear of second-placed Australia in the six-team event.
Looking to replicate other short-form sports, most noteably Twenty20 cricket, Athletics Australia’s venture is aimng to use Usain Bolt’s star power to attract new fans for track and field.
Speaking in advance of the event, Athletic Australia Chief Executive Phil Jones stated "I think athletics has been very successful as a sport in the Olympic Games and there's widespread coverage of its world championships, but in recent years, much below that, there's not a great deal of media or public interest and certainly not sponsorship interest.
"And so the sport is really looking at ways to draw more public attention and to develop perhaps a bit more ... as a sport entertainment product than what athletics has been obviously for a long time, in a conventional event sense."
Mr Jones said nothing like this had been done for athletics anywhere else in the world.
With the three Nitro Athletics events seen as a trial (the remaining two Nitro Series meets are on Thursday and next Saturday), Jone told the ABC “we have a number of backers that have invested in the development of the product.
"Once we're past the test of concept, then we've already had some discussions about where it next goes and we'll be continuing those discussions with the International Athletics Federation and others during and beyond this week."
Jones added that the event was attracting domestic and international broadcasters, stating "it's being broadcast nationally on Channel 7 and there are a number of international broadcasters taking it, particularly in those countries that have teams here, not surprisingly - so England, Japan, China, New Zealand, America, and a number of other European countries."
Marketing expert Dr Con Stavros from RMIT University explained the trend of short-form sport, commenting “there's certainly a trend in major sports around the world to repackage their games and their sports for new audiences, looking for bite-sized consumption, making sure that television and other forms of media have a strong interest in it.
"And of course with athletics being so disparate in terms of the number of events and the different forms of it, bringing it together in a team-based competition, doing it over a short period of time, and making sound so fun and attractive seems like a no-brainer for them."
As for Bolt, his comment on the night was to commend “the energy of the crowd.”
For more information go to www.nitroathletics.com.au
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4th November 2016 - USAIN BOLT TO HEADLINE MELBOURNE’S NITRO ATHLETICS EVENT
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27th November 2015 - ATHLETICS AUSTRALIA NAMES MARK ARBIB AS ITS NEW PRESIDENT
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