Seventeen American athletes who punched their ticket to the Rio Olympics at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials plan to return to Hayward Field next week to compete in the inaugural TrackTown Summer Series.
The TrackTown Summer Series, presented by Beynon Sports Surfaces, is designed to provide top American track and field athletes with a unique opportunity to compete on U.S. soil during the summer months.
The meet will be held at Hayward Field at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 29. It will be televised live on ESPN.
The scored competition features four teams of 36 athletes each, split evenly between men and women, representing the cities of Portland, Ore., New York City, San Francisco and Philadelphia. Competitors will battle for prize money and additional benefits in excess of a half-million dollars.
“We’re excited that Hayward Field will be the stage for many of these athletes before they embark on their Olympic journey to Rio,” said TrackTown USA CEO Michael Reilly. “We believe the team-scoring aspect will provide a tremendous opportunity for both fans and athletes to engage in a great competition.”
Several Olympic athletes scheduled to compete in the TrackTown Summer Series were chosen in an historic eight-round draft on June 25. The four teams are in the process of finalizing rosters this week with the addition of 20 athletes per squad.
One of the U.S. athletes who will compete in both the TrackTown Summer Series and Rio Olympics is University of Oregon alum Matthew Centrowitz, a 2012 Olympian and reigning world indoor champion in the 1,500 meters. Centrowitz won the 1,500m at the Trials with a meet record of 3 minutes, 34.09 seconds. He plans to run the 800m at the TrackTown Summer Series against a stacked field.
“First of all, I’m thrilled, obviously to make the Olympic team,” said Centrowitz, who competes for Portland-based Nike Oregon Project. “As a former Duck, I noticed a huge boost in special ovations at the Trials, and I’m expecting that same support when I return to Hayward for the TrackTown Summer Series.”
Centrowitz and Brittney Reese, the reigning 2012 Olympic gold medalist and six-time World Champion in the long jump, were the top overall picks of the athlete draft by Team New York City.
“That was really cool,” Centrowitz said. “I got a text from a friend even before I noticed it on Twitter. To be the first pick in the first draft ever, and to go to a team representing one of my favorite cities, it couldn’t have gone down any better.”
2016 Olympians entered in the inaugural TrackTown Summer Series are:
- PHILADELPHIA – Phyllis Francis (400m), Brenda Martinez (800m), Ben Blankenship (1,500m), Michelle Lee Ahye (100m, Trinidad & Tobago)
- PORTLAND – Kate Grace (1,500m), Ricky Robertson (high jump), Will Claye (triple jump)
- SAN FRANCISCO – Erik Kynard (high jump), Shannon Rowbury (1,500m), Robby Andrews (1,500m), Melissa Bishop (800m, Canada)
- NEW YORK CITY – Matthew Centrowitz (800m), Brittney Reese (long jump), Donn Cabral (3,000m steeplechase), Emma Coburn (1,500m), Jeff Porter (110m hurdles), Felisha Johnson (shot put)
The meet promises a handsome cash payout for the participating athletes. In each of the 20 scheduled men’s and women’s events, prize money will be awarded to the top six finishers, including $4,000 to the winners and down to $500 for the sixth-place finishers.
An additional $1,000 will go to each member of the winning team. The TrackTown Summer Series features scored competition between four teams of 36 athletes each, split evenly between men and women, representing the cities of Portland, San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia. The events will be scored 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.
Also, athletes selected in the June 25 draft will receive an incremental bonus based on which round they were chosen, starting with $3,000 for the first round and going down to $750 for rounds five through eight.
Athletes not chosen in the draft but who were selected to compete in the TrackTown Summer Series will each receive $500 in addition to any prize money they win based on their performance at the meet. Finally, each of the participating athletes will receive a travel stipend, plus complimentary housing, meals and transportation to and from the meet.
In all, the combined prize money and additional benefits provided to participants is in excess of $500,000.