American Track League debuts in Indiana with Lolo Jones

Lolo Jones

The new American Track League bills itself as “a track meet within a rock concert.”

The show starts Friday with the first of at least five scheduled meets, highlighted by Lolo Jones, a house band and a 40-yard dash in Bloomington, Ind.

The league, which also has dates set in Charlottesville, Va.; Atlanta and Austin and Houston in Texas, provides more opportunities for home fans to watch athletes from the greatest track and field nation in the world.

“I’m just tired of the U.S. fans saying, ‘Hey, when can I see you run?'” Jones said in a press conference. “I’m like, well, every four years at the Olympics, on TV. Having track races in the U.S. on a regular basis allows our fans to not only watch us every four years. That’s huge.”

Jones is scheduled to make her season 100m hurdles debut after losing more than 20 pounds since placing 11th in bobsled at the Sochi Olympics in February. Jones participated in a shuttle hurdles relay at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, last Friday.

She’ll be joined in Bloomington by Olympic 400m hurdles silver medalist Lashinda Demus, 400m bronze medalist DeeDee Trotter, 4x100m relay silver medalist Trell Kimmons and 1500m runner Morgan Uceny, among others.

Olympic champions Sanya Richards-Ross and Ashton Eaton are slated for league meets later this spring, and Usain Bolt may run in a league meet in August, The Associated Press reported.

”Usain wants to figure out how to be involved,” agent Paul Doyle, the league creator, told the AP. ”We’re discussing different ways to get him in.”

The league was designed to bring more fan interaction to track and field, with fans allowed down on the track, and to cut lag time between events and fit the entire competition in a two-hour window. There will be a house band — The Velveteen Playboys — and a dance team.

“If we can get people to fill the seats, and us on the other end perform at the top of our capability, I think it will work brilliantly,” Demus said.

The U.S. has led the medal table in track and field at the last six Olympics. The American Track League gives the world’s best athletes a chance to regularly compete at home, if it can be sustained through initial hurdles such as a fraction of prize money compared to European meets and the search for a title sponsor.

There are other track meets in the U.S., such as Diamond League competitions in New York and Eugene, Ore. Many stars also enter open college meets in the spring before heading to Europe in the summer.

“We can basically have a platform to stand on outside of just being a lot of individual athletes running in circles,” Trotter said. “This is a great opportunity for us to actually expand and bring a lot of visibility to everyone here in the States.”

One of the intriguing facets of the Bloomington meet will be a 40-yard dash open to anybody to qualify for the men’s 100m, creating a chance to upstage an Olympian in a race.

“It blows my mind,” Jones said. “If they get beat by a regular Joe Schmoe off the couch, their pride is going to be so damaged.”

Sprinters say they’re often asked what their 40-yard dash time is. Kimmons, who owns a 100m personal best of 9.95 seconds, said he has never been clocked in the 40 before.

“I’m going to prove to the world … that [NFL running back] Chris Johnson‘s not the fastest 40,” Kimmons said.

Johnson set the NFL Combine 40 record of 4.24 seconds in 2008.

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South Korea’s first gold medalist of 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to compete for China

Lim Hyo-Jun

Lim Hyo-Jun, a short track speed skater who won South Korea’s first gold medal of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, has been cleared to skate for China and was reportedly named to the national team Monday.

Lim, who won the 1500m on the first day of medal competition at the PyeongChang Games, began the process of switching to China after a June 2019 incident where he pulled down a teammate’s trousers, leaving him standing, exposed, in front of female teammates.

Lim, the 2019 World overall champion, was banned from the team for a year and later found guilty of sexual harassment before the verdict was overturned on appeal.

It was reported in March 2021 that Lim was in the process of trying to gain Chinese nationality to compete at the Beijing Winter Olympics, but Lim was not cleared to switch by the International Skating Union until this July. His Chinese name is Lin Xiaojun.

Another star South Korean skater, triple 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ahn Hyun-Soo, switched to Russia after not making the 2010 Olympic team. He then won three golds for the host nation as Viktor Ahn at the 2014 Sochi Games.

China’s national team for the upcoming season reportedly does not include veterans Wu Dajing, the nation’s lone gold medalist across all sports at the 2018 Olympics, and Fan Kexin, a three-time Olympic medalist.

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Brigid Kosgei, world record holder, to miss London Marathon

Brigid Kosgei

World record holder Brigid Kosgei withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon due to a right hamstring injury that has bothered her for the last month.

“My training has been up and down and not the way I would like to prepare to be in top condition,” was posted on Kosgei’s social media. “We’ve decided it’s best I withdraw from this year’s race and get further treatment on my injuries in order to enter 2023 stronger than ever.”

Kosgei, a 28-year-old Kenyan mother of twins, shattered the world record by 81 seconds at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She clocked 2:14:04 to smash Brit Paula Radcliffe‘s record from 2003.

Since, Kosgei won the 2020 London Marathon, took silver at the Tokyo Olympics, placed fourth at the 2021 London Marathon and won this past March’s Tokyo Marathon in what was then the third-fastest time in history (2:16:02).

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa moved into the top three by winning the Berlin Marathon last Sunday in 2:15:37.

The London Marathon women’s field includes Kenyan Joyciline Jepkosgei, a winner in New York City (2019) and London (2021), and Yalemzerf Yehualaw, who was the Ethiopian record holder until Assefa won in Berlin.

The men’s field is headlined by Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest male marathoner in history, and Brit Mo Farah, a four-time Olympic champion on the track.

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