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USA Indoor Championships To Return To Albuquerqu For Two More Years - RRW

#1 24 February 2012 08:27 PM
Chris Nickinson 
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USA INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS TO RETURN TO ALBUQUERQUE FOR TWO MORE YEARS
By David Monti
© 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

ALBUQUERQUE (24-Feb) -- Officials from USA Track & Field and the city of Albuquerque announced here today that the USA Indoor Championships would be held here for at least two more years.  USATF interim CEO Mike McNees and Albuquerque mayor Richard J. Berry made the announcement jointly at a news conference.

"I'm really excited on behalf of USA Track & Field to be back in Albuquerque for what is our third year of our run here for the USA Indoor Championships," McNees said.  He continued: "I'm very excited to announce that we've agreed in principle with the city and the visitors' bureau to extend our run here in Albuquerque for another two years."

The championships, which have been held in the Albuquerque Convention Center, have been a mixed blessing for athletes. This city's high altitude (about 1500m downtown), makes sprinting, throwing and jumping easier, but leaves middle and long distance runners gasping for air. Indeed, during the 2011 indoor season, the best marks by American men in the 60m and shot put, and American women in the 60m hurdles, pole vault, long jump, shot put, and weight throw were all achieved here.

"Our goal in Albuquerque is simple," said Mayor Berry.  "We want to be the best place to run and jump in indoor track and field in the United States.  He added: "These athletes... they want to be able to compete, and they want to be able to run fast and jump high.  I think we've got a facility that does that."

Five-time world champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who will compete here in the 400m for the first time, said she supported the decision to keep the meet here (it was previously contested in Boston from 2003 through 2008) and was excited to try running at altitude.  She already has the world-leading mark of 50.89 set at the Millrose Games in New York City on Feb. 11, but wouldn't mind improving on it.

"This is my first time running at altitude," she said.  "I don't mind if I faint if I run a great time."

McNees said that there had been interest from other cities in hosting the meet, but admitted that there were no other concrete offers on the table.  Extending the existing contract, he said, made the most sense.

"We solicited bids, spoke to a number of different venues around the country and made a decision (that) the best place for us to be was Albuquerque," McNees said.  "We didn't get a huge number of bidders."

Drumming up media interest for these championships has been difficult, despite the appearance of top stars like Richards-Ross, world high jump champion Jesse Williams, world 1500m champion Jenny Simpson, American pole vault record holder Jenn Suhr, and Olympic hurdles bronze medalist David Oliver.  The main daily newspaper, the Albuquerque Journal, did not mention this weekend's championships in their Friday sports section, and not a single national newspaper sent a writer today's press conference.

Nonetheless, Mayor Berry was optimistic about the future of the championships here.

"We're on the front edge of this," he said, sporting a bright red Team USA jacked which McNees had given him.  "That's why we need to continue to make investments.  That's why we're going to put several hundred thousand dollars into the track over the next coming months to make sure it stays the world class facility that it is."

*  *  *  *  *

The USA Indoor Championships open here tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time.  The top-2 finishers in each event earn berths on Team USA for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Istanbul, March 9-11.  Amongst the finals to be contested tomorrow are the men's 35 lb. weight throw, triple jump, high jump and 3000m, and the women's 20 lb. weight throw, triple jump, and 3000m.  The meet can be watched LIVE via a webcast at USATF.org in cooperation with RunnerSpace.com.

ENDS


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