China, Japan and England have all confirmed they will be sending teams to Nitro Athletics Melbourne when the history making series kicks off next February.
Across three nights at Lakeside Stadium, representatives from each of the nations will form three formidable teams that will challenge Australia on their home turf.
Staged on Saturday 4th and Thursday 9th, with a final on Saturday 11th February, the new sports entertainment series will see the best athletes of Australia and the rest of the world compete in a new style of athletics that will revolutionise global track and field.
Aside from facing Australia’s best athletes, the international visitors will also battle the world’s greatest athlete, Usain Bolt who will be competing and captaining the ‘Bolt All-Stars’.
Asia’s best to take on Bolt
Chinese athletics fans are already well acquainted with Bolt, as the Beijing 2008 Olympics provided the unforgettable launching pad for Bolt’s extraordinary sprinting career. Bolt astounded everyone in 2008 when he won the 100m, 200m and 4x100m Olympic gold medals in world record time, and seven years later he repeated the triple-crown in the Bird’s Nest at the 2015 IAAF Beijing World Athletics Championships.
Bolt’s exploits in China have inspired a new generation of young Chinese sprinters. At the 2015 world championships, Bingtian Su made the men’s 100m final becoming the first Asian athlete to do so. The Chinese men’s 4x100m relay team (Youxue Mo, Zhenye Xie, Bingtian Su, Peimeng Zhang) catapulted themselves onto the podium to win silver behind Bolt’s Jamaican team.
Just as the Chinese impressed in 2015, the Japanese sprinters left their imposing mark on world sprinting in 2016 when they too won silver behind Bolt and the Jamaican team in the 4x100m relay at the Rio Olympics.
The Japanese foursome of Ryota Yamagata, Shota Iizuka, Yoshihide Kiryu and Asuka Cambridge are just some of the emerging young stars of the Japanese athletics team gearing up for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Nitro Athletics Melbourne will serve as a prelude to the intriguing match-up we will see in Tokyo 2020, with the traditional rivals both set to showcase their best young athletes in Melbourne next February.
With both China and Japan sharing a passion for track and field, the decision to have Chinese and Japanese teams compete at Nitro Athletics Melbourne was an obvious one said Nitro Athletics Ambassador John Steffensen.
“Both the Chinese and Japanese fans love their athletics and both have a lot of emerging young athletes who love to entertain and will be well suited to Nitro Athletics,” Steffensen said.
“Of course they also love global superstars like Usain Bolt. In Beijing he set the Bird’s Nest alight and the Chinese fans loved his performance,” Steffensen said.
“Having one team in Asia is good, but having two really strong Asian based teams in China and Japan participating is fantastic,” Steffensen continued.
“Both nations have big track and field supporter bases and we see this as an incredibly great growth opportunity to market Nitro Athletics into Asia.”
Ashes enemies to face off at Nitro Athletics Melbourne
When it comes to rivalries nothing can beat an Ashes-style clash between old enemies England and Australia.
Just as the two nations share a competitive grudge in cricket, rugby and cycling, England and Australia have had a long standing competitiveness in the track and field too.
“There will be six teams on the start line in Melbourne, but the mini-battle between Australia and England will always fascinate Aussie sports fans,” Steffensen added.
“It’s a great rivalry that has stood the test of time, even going back to the days of Roger Bannister and John Landy. And it will be ignited again in Melbourne next year, and no doubt continue through to the world athletics championships in London in 2017, and onto our home soil at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games,” Steffensen said.
England Athletics Chief Executive Chris Jones is looking forward to putting their best team forward for the ground-breaking Nitro Athletics series.
“We are always looking for exciting and innovative ways to create new opportunities in our sport, whether for those taking their first steps into athletics and running or to offer unique challenges to those who have reached the very highest levels,” Jones said.
“Travelling to Australia for Nitro Athletics also affords us the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with Australian conditions ahead of our athletes’ appearance at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.”
“We are delighted to be a part of Nitro Athletics and trust that as well as being a tremendous opportunity for the athletes involved this will inspire more people to become involved in our sport and seek to fulfil their potential. This is a tremendous idea from Athletics Australia,” Jones added.