In it's return trip, and under a new name, the American Track League delivered on the goods bringing world class track and field athletes within a handshake of their fans. The five state tour put on by Doyle Management, touched down in Atlanta on Friday night after stops in Bloomington, Indiana and Charlottesville, Virginia.
The event even brought out Winter and Summer Olympic medalist Lauryn Williams. "As soon as I got a spot in my schedule I wanted to make sure I made it to a meet," said Williams. "The American Track League is going places."
Atlanta Falcons cheerleader Kat Majester kicked the night's events off with a win in the pole vault competition. Majester bested Angie Rummans on fewest attempts at 4.30 meters in front of fans that were invited down onto the field to watch the event.
Alongside the pole vault competition, Jamaica's Damar Forbes and USA's Jeremy Hicks tied for the top spot in the men's long jump competition. Forbes used his last attempt to tie Hicks with a leap of 7.73 m.
Atlanta-native and Olympic medalist DeeDee Trotter claimed victory in the 300 m dash. A result that delighted the large number of fans who had taken pictures with Trotter prior to the start of the race.
2012 Olympic silver medalist Jason Richardson cruised to victory in the men's 110 m hurdles. "To come out here, get a win, and get the first race under my belt felt pretty good," said Richardson.
In the marquee event of the day, Kristi Caistlyn edged college teammate Queen Harrison in the women's 100 m hurdles. As the winner walked back towards the finish line fans swarmed around her for congratulatory hugs and selfies.
The excitement of the meet is exactly what is needed to push track and field into the forefront of sports in non-olympic years. "I think its really important that we get some more races back here on American soil and that we really improve the fan opportunities so that we have people actually coming to the races," said Williams.
Former Olympian 800 meter runner Hazel Clark shared Williams' view on the plight of the sport. "The energy here is amazing," said Clark. "This is exactly what track and field needs." Clark ran in the last professional track and field meet held in Atlanta since the 1996 Olympics when she competed in the 2001 Golden Spike Tour at the Georgia Dome. Of note, DeeDee Trotter also participated and won the 400 meter dash in the high school portion of the Golden Spike.
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