High hopes of low times for Bolt on new Zurich surface as he announces he will run Weltklasse

Monday, 12 May 2014
By Mike Rowbottom

Usain Bolt will run the Zurich Diamond League meeting on August 28 ©Getty ImagesUsain Bolt, who has yet to make his competitive debut this season, has announced he will compete on a newly-laid track at the Letzigrund Stadium at the Weltklasse meeting in Zurich on August 28, the first of two International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League finals.

With the new surface at the Letzigrund Stadium, hopes are high that Bolt will treat the fans to a fast performance.

The existing track will not be replaced but retopped on June 12 - ahead of the European Championships to be held there from August 12 to 17 - with a new surface, developed by Swiss company CONICA.

Extensive tests conducted by the Institute of Biomechanics and Orthopaedics of the German Sport University Cologne have confirmed the benefits of the new system.

"The new surface provides athletes with better stability of the big toes, ankles, and in particular of their knees," said Professor Gert-Peter Brüggemann, who led the studies.

"This effect results in a smaller loss of energy in these joints, and therefore in less oscillation of the body's centre of gravity.

"The new surface of the track therefore creates even better conditions for fast times."

Usain Bolt, pictured winning at last year's IAAF Diamond League meeting, will run in this year's event on August 28, he has announced ©AFP/Getty ImagesUsain Bolt, pictured winning at last year's IAAF Diamond League meeting, will run in this year's event on August 28, he has announced ©AFP/Getty Images

"I always look forward to running in Zurich," said the six-time Olympic champion and triple world record-holder.

"The event is always extremely well organised.

"The atmosphere at Letzigrund Stadium is unique, and the crowd is world-class."

In March, organisers of the Rome Diamond League's Golden Gala on June 5 announced that Bolt would skip the meeting, at which he has competed for the previous three years, because of injury problems.

However, Bolt's manager Ricky Simms told The Associated Press that the world 100 and 200 metres record holder did not have a contract to run the Rome meet and that he was "not aware of any problems".

"We were warned a few days ago about Bolt's problems," Rome meet director Luigi D'Onofrio said in a statement.

"Then the confirmation came: Bolt will skip the Rome stop of the Diamond League, the first meet he had decided to compete in. Obviously we're disappointed."

Simms said Bolt would make his European season debut in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on June 17, then run the Paris Diamond League meet on July 5 and in Malmo, Sweden, on August 5.

"We will announce more meetings in the coming weeks," Simms wrote in an email.

The meeting at Letzigrund will be held on a new track system developed by CONICA ©CONICAThe meeting at Letzigrund will be held on a new track system developed by CONICA ©CONICA

Bolt had a rare 100m defeat in Rome last year when the US sprinter Justin Gatlin beat him by one-hundredth of a second, but the Jamaican prevailed overall last season to earn three World Championship golds in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m.

This will be Bolt's seventh appearance in Zurich.

He finished second in the under-23 200m on his debut in 2006 and then finished second again in the main 200m one year later.

In 2008 and 2009 he moved down to the 100m, winning on both occasions, and then in 2012 he set a meeting record of 19.66sec in the 200m.

He notched up another 100m victory in Zurich last year, winning in 9.90.

Patrick Magyar, the Weltklasse meeting director, is optimistic the new track surface will contribute to an even more thrilling IAAF Diamond League final.

"We have had the best line-up in the world for 11 years in a row," he said. 

"The new surface is another big step in the meeting's constant efforts to create the best possible conditions for the best athletes in the world."

The new surface will be installed at the cost of CHF 800,000 (£535,000/$901,000/€655,000) and will be paid by the City of Zurich, the owner of Letzigrund Stadium.

"We would like Letzigrund Stadium to be ready for the series of athletics highlights of this summer," said City Councillor and Head of the Department of School and Sport Gerold Lauber.

"The track was due to be renovated in two or three years in any case.

"But as we will have both the European Athletics Championships Zürich 2014 and Weltklasse Zürich at the stadium this year, we think it's worthwhile bringing the track into shape a little earlier than initially planned."

Contact the writer of this story at mike.rowbottom@insidethegames.biz


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