In keeping with tradition, Randall’s Island will once again transform into a spirited piece of Caribbean heaven as some of the top Jamaican track & field athletes—and their supportive Caribbean fans—descend upon Icahn Stadium at the adidas Grand Prix on Saturday, June 12. New for 2010, the event will be the fifth stop on the inaugural 14-meet, international Diamond League circuit.
The man everyone wants to see? None other than Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt, already a sports legend and one of the most popular athletes in the world. The last time Bolt competed in New York in 2008, he electrified the crowd with his first world record in the 100 meters. He’s since lowered that mark twice and set the 200m world record, both to seemingly untouchable times (9.58 for 100m and 19.19 for 200m).
Bolt has said the overwhelming support from the Jamaican crowd makes New York feel like home turf.
“It’s huge because I get to perform in front of one of the biggest Jamaican home crowds away from home,” Bolt said. “It’s a wonderful experience to come out and run in front of these guys. It’s always exciting, and you know it’s going to be a great atmosphere because these guys are going to come out and scream and shout. They’re going to give a good vibe because that’s what Jamaicans do. It’s going to be fun.”
The 100m is shaping up to be the marquee race of the adidas Grand Prix, as Bolt will line up against his Racers Track Club training partners Yohan Blake and Daniel Bailey. Blake, 20, hails from the celebrated Jamaican high school program at St. Jago and is the national junior record holder in the 100m. Blake is no stranger to success on the Icahn Stadium track; he won the 100m “B” race in New York in 2009 and was a member of St Jago’s winning relay team in 2007 at this event. This past weekend at the Penn Relays, he ran as a part of the dominant Jamaican 4x100m relay—with Bolt at the anchor—that obliterated the competition in claiming victory and a new Penn Relays record.
Bailey, 23, who has run 9.91 for 100m, is a two-time Olympian from Antigua and Barbuda and was the bronze medalist at 60m at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships. Additional Caribbean athletes in the 100m will be announced soon.
Other events on the program will feature notable Caribbean athletes. In the men’s 400m hurdles, Olympic medalist Danny McFarlene will join Isa Phillips as two of the top Caribbean hopefuls. On the women’s side, Olympian Kelly-Ann Baptiste, 23, of Trinidad and Tobago will compete in the 200m, the event in which she owns the national record. Jamaican Delloreen Ennis-London, 35, will line up against top American Lolo Jones in the women’s 100m hurdles. Ennis-London is a three-time World Championship medalist in the 100m hurdles.
Two Jamaican athletes have been invited to demonstrate the country’s talent at the distance events as a part of the Jim Ryun High School Dream Mile, one of the newest additions to the adidas Grand Prix. The two events—the boys and girls mile races—present an opportunity for the best male and female high school athletes to compete on the big stage at one of the premier outdoor track & field meets in the United States.
In addition, the top Jamaican high school boys 4×400 teams and high school girls sprint medley relay will line up on the Icahn Stadium track. Confirmed high school boys teams include : Vere Tech High School, Camperdown High and Wolmers High School for Boys. On the girls side, St. Jago High, Manchester High and Holmwood Tech High School are slated to compete.
Spectators will feel even more like they’re at home with the addition of Caribbean concessionaire Barry’s Jerk Delight to the existing concession company at Icahn Stadium. Barry’s Jerk Delight, which is located in the Bronx, will be on-site to serve its signature Caribbean seafood and American dishes.
Increased and upgraded backstretch seating at track level is being added to accommodate the growing demand; limited tickets are still available at www.adidasgrandprix.com or by calling 1-877-TIX-TRAC. Caribbean spectators should list promo code IrieJam2010 or Jamaica2010 when purchasing tickets.
Additional mass transportation options have been added to address expected parking space shortages. Spectators are encouraged to purchase tickets to a dedicated event ferry, which stops in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. Also, special MTA event buses will run continuously from the 125th Street and Lexington Avenue subway stop.
The adidas Grand Prix, in its sixth year, is the nation’s premier outdoor track & field invitational meet. This Diamond League meeting promises to be full of excitement, even beyond the sprint events. Joining Bolt are some of the sport’s marquee stars across a variety of events, including: Australian pole vault king Steve Hooker, American distance star Bernard Lagat and multi-event specialists Jessica Ennis of Great Britain and Hyleas Fountain of the United States.