Melbourne: Sprint superstar Usain Bolt will compete in Australia for the first time when he headlines an innovative team athletics event next year, he said on Friday.
The nine-time Olympic champion, 30, will captain the ‘Bolt All-Stars’ for the inaugural Nitro Athletics competition in Melbourne in February.
“This will be track and field as it’s never been seen before and that’s why I’m involved, not only as a competitor, but also as a team captain,” Bolt said at the official launch in Melbourne.
Bolt, who sealed an amazing ‘triple triple’ of Olympic sprint titles in Rio in August, is reportedly set to pick up Aus$1 million (US$760,000) as the face of the new series.
The first edition will take place at Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium on February 4, 9 and 11, involving six teams of 24 athletes, split equally between men and women.
The meets will include non-traditional events such as middle-distance and hurdles relays in an attempt to broaden athletics’ appeal.
“Nitro Athletics is what track and field needs, a fresh way to present the sport,” Bolt said.
The appearance in Melbourne will kick off Bolt’s preparations for what is expected to be his final major competition, the world championships in London in August.
Although Bolt is expected to retire after London, he has reportedly not ruled out extending his career to the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Besides Bolt, several other top names have expressed an interest in the new series with announcements expected over the coming weeks.