EUGENE, Ore. – As he stood facing the Powell Plaza entry gates to Hayward Field, one of the most storied track and field venues in the world, IAAF General Secretary Essar Gabriel issued this declaration to an assembled group of media and local dignitaries on Thursday.
“TrackTown, here we come.”
His statement was met with enthusiastic applause from those in attendance, who were already enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures and bright sunshine as they gathered to hear comments from the visiting IAAF delegation, which also included IAAF Council member Abby Hoffman.
IAAF Council member Abby Hoffman said the “iconic and inspiring nature” of Hayward Field would add flavor and significance to the 15th edition of the IAAF World Junior Championships at Hayward Field this summer. (TrackTown USA photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone)
The IAAF made the long trek to TrackTown USA to confer with the local organizing committee on the progress being made in preparations for the IAAF World Junior Championships.
The 15th edition of the six-day meet, which features the world’s best track and field athletes under the age of 20, will be held July 22-27 at Hayward Field, the first time ever on U.S. soil.
“This is history in the making,” Gabriel said. “TrackTown is going to meet the IAAF, and I think it’s a proud moment, of which we, the representatives of the IAAF, are looking forward to.
“180 nations will be competing here in good spirit, taking the baton from the previous edition in Barcelona. We will see 2,500 team officials and athletes grace this place, and looking to add a page of history to the great cities of Eugene and Springfield.”
Hoffman, a four-time Olympian in the 800 meters for Canada, emphasized the importance of holding the IAAF World Junior Championships in a place that understands the significance of the event.
“These are the athletes that will be the stars of tomorrow,” she said. “Many of them, and you will see this when they are performing here this summer, are already very, very outstanding athletes in their own right. It’s very critical for us that this event be staged in a place that acknowledges the level of performance of these junior athletes and also provides them with the conditions to perform at their best …
“I think it’s fair to say that the iconic and inspiring nature of this venue is going to add a real flavor and extra significance to this particular edition of the World Junior Championships.”
The IAAF officials, along with Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Springfield Mayor Christine Lundberg, and USA Track & Field Chief Operating Officer Renee Washington, were introduced by TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna.
With IAAF Council member Abby Hoffman and IAAF General Secretary Essar Gabriel seated behind him, TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna talks about the excitement of playing host to the IAAF World Junior Championships at Hayward Field this summer. (TrackTown USA photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone)
Two other IAAF officials were also in attendance: events coordinator Véronique Marchal-Réjaud and senior manager Jee Isram.
TrackTown USA is the local organizing committee for the IAAF World Junior Championships and the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships to be held in Portland.
“This summer is going to be a really exciting time,” Lananna said. “Some might say, the best year ever for track and field at Hayward Field. As you stand below the gates here, you might unceremoniously walk through here, but this is a great place, and so many great things have happened here, and this summer is no exception.”
Piercy, who pointed out the positive economic impact of all the events at Hayward Field – the NCAA Championships, for example, will pump more than $50 million into the local economy through 2021 – is eager to roll out the red carpet for this summer’s festivities.
“I have to say I’m very proud to call myself the Mayor of TrackTown USA,” she said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming the world into our friendly community. We can’t wait for them to get to know the most passionate track and field fans in America.”
Hoffman echoed those sentiments when she spoke about her reply to a question asking her to rate the atmosphere in Eugene using the European four-star hotel system.
“My response was that rating system doesn’t do justice to what we have here in Eugene,” she said.
“In terms of this iconic facility, fantastic atmosphere, terrific support from municipalities, wonderful campus environment and great support from Vin and his team, I think we have the makings of a terrific event and we all look forward to seeing you again this summer.”