INDIANAPOLIS - USA Track & Field this week proposed that the world's two sprinting powerhouses challenge each other in a unique, dual-meet format that could see some of track and field's superstars match up like never before.
USATF has formally invited Jamaica to engage in a home-and-home series in 2009 that that will pit the two nations' sprinters and hurdlers against each other in head-to-head, team-scored competition.
As described in a letter hand-delivered on Saturday morning by USATF CEO Doug Logan to Jamaican NACAC Area Group Representative Neville "Teddy" McCook, the meets would feature male and female athletes in the 100, 200 and 400 meters; 100/110m hurdles and 400m hurdles; long jump; and the 4x100, 4x400 and sprint medley relays. One competition would be in the United States, with the other taking place on Jamaican soil. Dates of the potential challenge meets are proposed for May and June.
"It was obvious to everyone that with the rise of your country's great sprinters and hurdlers, a compelling rivalry between Jamaica and the United States had developed," Logan wrote to McCook. "These competitions would offer a means to showcase our phenomenal strengths to the NACAC region and the world, as well as offering each of our nations' fans the chance to see the very best competition track and field has to offer, on home soil."
Logan delivered the letter to McCook at the NACAC Cross Country Championships, held Saturday at Chain of Lakes Park in Titusville, Fla.
The proposal comes on the heels of World Championship and Olympic competition in which American and Jamaican sprinters dominated. At the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Americans won the men's 100, 200 and 400 meters, sweeping the longer race, as well as the women's 200, both relays, women's 100 hurdles and men's 400 hurdles. Jamaica won the women's 100, as well as numerous silver and bronze medals. All told, an American or Jamaican won 10 of 12 medals in the men's and women's 100 and 200 meters and went 1-2 in three of the four relay events.
At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, it was Jamaica in the driver's seat. Led by global athlete of the year Usain Bolt, Jamaicans won the men's and women's 100 and 200 meters, including a sweep in the women's 100. Bolt broke the world record in the 100 and 200, and the 4x100 relay on which he ran third leg also broke the world record. Jamaica won the women's 400 hurdles in Olympic record time with the United States second, while Americans swept the men's 400m and 400 hurdles, won two medals in the men's 110m hurdles and took gold in the women's 100 hurdles. Collectively, USA and Jamaica won 11 of 12 medals in the 100 and 200; 16 of 18 in the 100 through 400; and five of six medals in the 400m hurdles.
Please see below for the full text of the letter from Mr. Logan to Mr. McCook.
I was among the millions of captivated observers in Beijing who watched as Jamaican short sprinters dominated their events at the Olympic Games. It was obvious to everyone that with the rise of your country's great sprinters and hurdlers, a compelling rivalry between Jamaica and the United States had developed. This rivalry showed signs of ramping up at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and began in earnest in 2005 when Asafa Powell broke the men's 100m world record. Whether it has been Powell-Gatlin, Campbell-Felix or Bolt-Gay, it has been these rivalries that have captivated the imaginations of track fans the world over.
As the IAAF indicated when it announced its new Diamond League, it is rivalries and head-to-head competition that will do the most to increase the popularity of track and field around the world. And of course, our sprinters are not ready to concede Jamaican dominance. Let us not forget that less than two years ago, it was the United States on top of three of the four short sprints and both sprint relays at the 2007 World Championships.
We have all seen how wildly successful and popular USA vs. The World at the Penn Relays has become, thanks to the USA-Jamaica rivalry at this event and the good-natured "competition" between our countries' fans at Franklin Field. All these factors lead me to believe that feeding the USA-Jamaica rivalry would be a thrilling addition to the Athletics schedule, not just for our athletes and fans, but for global Athletics.
On behalf of USA Track & Field, and with the greatest excitement, I propose a USA-Jamaica Challenge that will pit our countries in two head-to-head, home-and-home team scoring competitions in the spring of 2009. I would ask that you convey this challenge to the esteemed President Aris and General Secretary Gayle of the JAAA. The concept of this challenge is briefly outlined as follows:
Dates: Projected to be in May and June, nations' schedules permitting.
Sites: One in the east or southeast United States; the other in Jamaica.
Events: Men's and women's 100m, 200m, 400m, 110/100mH, 400mH, long jump and 4x100m, 4x400m & Sprint
Competitors: 3 or 4 per country in each individual event and 2 teams per country in relays.
Scoring: Cumulative scoring meets.
Financials: To be discussed following preliminary agreement to compete.
Television: Conceivably 2 one-hour live shows, either stand-alone or as part of
USATF Visa Championship Series show(s).
I think you'll agree that these competitions would offer a means to showcase our phenomenal strengths to the NACAC region and the world, as well as offering
each of our nations' fans the chance to see the very best competition track and field has to offer, on home soil.
I earnestly thank you and your country for entertaining this challenge. We have before us a tremendous opportunity to serve the sport, our athletes and fans.
I am hopeful that through good planning and promotions, we will be able to stage these potentially ground-breaking meets. I eagerly await your reply.
Warm personal regards,
Douglas G. Logan
General Secretary and Chief Executive Officer
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.
For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.