New Track League Will Look To Tempt Jeremiah Azu From 2025

Jeremiah Azu athletics. Pic: Getty Images

New Track League Will Look To Tempt Jeremiah Azu From 2025

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By Gareth James

Jeremiah Azu could be appearing in a new track league which will see top athletes compete against each other at four elite meetings every year from 2025.

The sprinter – who recently became the first Welsh athlete to run 100m under 10 seconds – will be a target for US athletics great Michael Johnson, who is fronting the organisation that wants to bring in the new version of the sport.

Johnson, a four-time Olympic gold medallist turned commentator for the BBC, said Grand Slam Track would debut in April of 2025 with two three-day meetings in the United States and two international stops, with prize money of around $3 million on offer at each meeting.

One US venue will be in Los Angeles, host city of the 2028 Olympics, Johnson said.

“People love racing. People want to see the best of the best. And at the core of Grand Slam Track is the best of the best athletes, only the fastest, competing head to head against one another four times a year,” Johnson said.

The meetings will feature track races only, no field events, divided into categories of short sprints, long sprints, high hurdles, low hurdles, middle distance and long distance, with men’s and women’s races in each category.

Each category will feature athletes competing in two events per meeting, short sprint competitors, for example, racing at both 100m and 200m.

A total of $12.6 million in prize money will be up for grabs across the four events, in addition to base pay and appearance fees.

The athlete with the best combined results from the two events in which they are taking part will receive $100,000, and the second-placed finisher $50,000, with the eighth-placed finisher taking home $10,000.

“It’s a little over $3 million in prize money for each one of our Slams,” Johnson said.

“At the end of the day, you know, these athletes deserve to be compensated for their talent and and for what they bring and we’re doing that.”

The new circuit has won enthusiastic support from another US Olympic legend, Carl Lewis, who was in Los Angeles for Tuesday’s announcement.

Lewis said the venture would help create a more marketable sport by its guarantee of bringing the best athletes together four times every year.

“If you go to any Grand Slam in tennis or golf, you know the best are gonna be there so you actually plan to watch,” Lewis said. “Right now (in track) you don’t know that.”

The league has already signed 400m hurdles world record-holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, who will be among 48 athletes under contract to Grand Slam Track and is committed to competing in all four meetings of the season.

“I firmly believe that this is the step forward that track needs to take it to another level,” said McLaughlin-Levrone, saying she relished the opportunity to race against the likes of Dutch 400m hurdles rival Femke Bol more frequently.

“That’s the whole point of Grand Slam Track — getting a more regular basis of the best of the best in each event,” McLaughlin-Levrone said of testing herself against Bol. “I’m sure (Bol) will be a part of that.

“There’s a lot of money put behind it and I think it’s gonna be very special for the sport overall and growing Track and Field.”

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Another 48 athletes will be invited to take part according to “their track record and current form” and paid appearance fees to take part.

A statement added that Grand Slam Track has already secured more than $30 million in financial commitments from investors and strategic partners for the new league.

Johnson meanwhile defended the decision not to include field events in the circuit, saying that restricting each meeting to track racing allowed for greater focus for fans.

“We are committed to one event at a time,” Johnson said. “You will not see multiple things happening when you’re watching a Grand Slam Track event on television or attending in person.

“With one event at a time in a three-hour window there is no place for us to fit field events.”

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