VISA Series Kicks Off On Saturday With
Reebok Boston Indoor Games
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
BOSTON - American superstars will be joined by still more of the world's most famous and most accomplished track & field athletes at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, which kicks off USA Track & Field's 2005 Visa Championship Series Saturday, January 29. Olympic and world championship medalists from a range of disciplines will compete in one of the finest meets of the indoor season. Held at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center, the Reebok Boston Indoor Games will be broadcast from 5-6:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, January 30, on ESPN.
America's finest on tap
Some of the biggest names in U.S. track & field are slated to compete in Boston, including all four of America's top shot putters. Christian Cantwell, Adam Nelson, John Godina and Reese Hoffa, who among them lay claim to the 10 longest throws in the world for 2004. For fans, The Running Network Men's Shot Put provides a match-up of the four men who collectively own 16 Olympic and World Championship medals. For Cantwell, 24, the Reebok Boston Indoor Games offers a rematch against the three Americans who denied him a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team despite an outstanding season, which saw him ranked #1 in the world. Nelson, 29, and the showman of the group, won the silver medal in Athens, repeating his place from Sydney. Godina, 32, is a two-time Olympic medalist and 3-time World Outdoor Champion; while Hoffa, 27, is the 2004 World Indoor silver medalist and a 2004 Olympian.
Distance stars add luster
The Reebok Men's Milee will feature another athlete who ended 2004 ranked #1 in the world: Kenyan Bernard Lagat, the Athens silver medalist who ran the fastest 1500m (3:27.40) in the world last year. Also expected are countryman Laban Rotich, the third-fastest man in history indoors at 1500m; Rachid Ramzi of Bahrain, who last July broke Hicham el Guerrouj's 1500m unbeaten streak of 29 races when he sprang to a surprise victory at the Golden Gala in Rome; and Nate Brannen, the two-time NCAA indoor 800-meter champion from the University of Michigan.
World's best make U.S. debuts
Ethiopia's world record holder at 5,000 and 10,000 meters, Kenenisa Bekele, also is the 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000. He will make his U.S. debut at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, as will Olympic heptathlon gold medalist and international fan favorite Carolina Kluft.
Bekele, named the IAAF's Athlete of the Year for 2004, will take on American Olympians Tim Broe - the American record holder - Daniel Lincoln, Jonathon Riley and Dathan Ritzenhein in the 3,000 meters. Other international stars in that race include Ireland's Alistair Cragg and Canada's Kevin Sullivan. All are 2004 Olympians. Also in the field is Ethiopia's Markos Geneti, who staged one of the biggest upsets of the 2004 indoor season when he out-leaned Haile Gebrselassie to win the 2-mile race at the Norwich Union Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham, England.
Kluft, Upshaw go head-to-head in LJ
Carolina Kluft, who earned the title of world's Greatest All-Around Female Athlete by winning Olympic gold in the heptathlon, will compete in the Reebok Women's Long Jump at Boston. She will have her hands full, however, with 2003 USA Outdoor champion Grace Upshaw, who after placing 8th at the 2003 World Outdoor Championships is coming off of a career-best year in 2004, where she set her personal best of 6.84m/22-5.25. At the Athens Olympics, Upshaw finished 10th in the long jump with Kluft 11th.
The 21-year-old Kluft, whose high energy and exuberance always gets the crowd involved, is a rising superstar who leaped to the front of the international stage when she won the 2003 World Championship in the heptathlon. She has not lost a heptathlon in three years. In Athens, her seven-event score of 6,952 ranks her second all-time in the Olympics to only Jackie Joyner-Kersee; and in 2003 she posted her personal best of 7,001 at the World Championships.
Kluft is so revered in her native Sweden that a national radio poll named her Swede of the Year. She has been honored by Crown Princess Victoria for her contributions to the nation, and she was named the 2003 Athlete of the Year by the European Athletic Association.
But wait! There's more
Still more medalists and heavy hitters are on the schedule.
In the Visa women's 60m hurdles, two-time Olympic bronze medalist Melissa Morrison will be joined by Sheena Johnson, the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials champion in the 400m hurdles who just missed a medal in Athens. They will meet in the women's 60-meter hurdles. Also at the starting line will be Jamaica's Vonette Dixon, the 2000 NCAA 60m-hurdles champion and 2002 Commonwealth Games 100m-hurdles silver medalist; and Angela Whyte of Canada, a 2004 Olympic finalist at the 100m hurdles.
The men's 60 meters includes 2003 World Outdoor 4x100m gold medalist and 200-meter silver medalist Darvis Patton, while the women's 200 features Olympic 4x400m relay gold medalist Dee Dee Trotter and Olympic 200m finalist Muna Lee. World indoor record holder Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia will strut her stuff in the women's 800 meters.
Big money at stake
Top athletes at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games could be in for a big payday. A world record on the track will be worth a $25,000 bonus and an American record will be good for an extra $10,000. In addition, performances at the meet will be eligible toward the race for the Visa Championship, where the top male and female athletes will share a $50,000 bonus and earn a trip for two to a premier Visa event.
Since the inaugural event in 1996, the meet has played host to three world records, nine American Records and six other national records. Several of those record-holders return for the 2005 event, including American indoor record-holder Tim Broe at 3,000 meters going up against the World Record-holder at 5000 and 10,000 meters, Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia. David Krummenacker, who thrilled the crowd when he set the American record for 1,000 meters here in 2002, is back to see what he can do three years later.
The 10th-annual Reebok Boston Indoor Games will be held at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center at Roxbury Community College, 1350 Tremont St., Boston, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 29, and will be broadcast on ESPN from 5-6:30 p.m. on Jan. 30. It is also the first stop on USA Track & Field's Visa Championship Series. Tickets are available on-line at www.BostonIndoorGames.com or by calling 1-866-GO-BIG05.
With the series beginning and concluding in tradition-rich Boston, fans around the country will be able to watch the meets on four national television broadcasts on NBC and ESPN. Adding to the excitement of competition, the Visa Championship Series features over $1 million in prize and athlete support dollars, including a $50,000 jackpot and prize package going to the Visa Champions. Visa Champions will be the top male and female performers of the Visa Championship series.
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