Track and Field leads pack
Athletes won’t be the only ones competing this week in Indianapolis. With three major events taking place over the next five days, sports fanatics will have a tough time choosing which to attend.
Track & Field
What do you get when you combine Indiana heat with track and field athletes? A fast track and potential new world records.
As of Monday’s weather report, the forecast for the 2006 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships is going to be hot with a possibility of scattered thunderstorms Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Hot temperatures and a dry track make for perfect sprinting conditions, according to the director of communications for the Indiana Sports Corporation, John Dedman. So hold off on those rain dances because Indianapolis might see history in the making.
Present and future Olympians will be sprinting, throwing and jumping for a national title as well as the right to be named the best male or female in the U.S. The “World’s Fastest Human,” Justin Gatlin, will be one of many elite athletes participating.
Gatlin recently holds the world record time of 9.77 for the 100 meter, which he shares with Asafa Powell from Jamaica. Other notable athletes include Marion Jones, Jeremy Wariner, Lauryn Williams, Shawn Crawford, Adam Nelson, Tim Mack and more. Overall, the combined athletes have worked to achieve a total of 25 Olympic medals and 25 World Championship medals. “This group of athletes did so well in [the 2004 Olympics] that they are going to do very well in 2008,” Dedman said.
The AT&T Championship event will take place today through Sunday at the Michael A. Carroll Stadium at Indiana University Purdue University–Indianapolis. This event is the last of four that complete the Visa Championship Series. The Visa Series determines its champions by following a ranking system that scores athletes using points based on their performances and then totals their points from all four events. The champion title from the Visa Series is the most prestigious title one can receive in a non-Olympic year such as this year. The male and female champions will be announced on Sunday.
The “Fastest Kid in the City” finals will also take place on the track Sunday at approximately 3 p.m. Children ages 3 through 14 will be participating.
For more information and a schedule of events visit www.usatf.org, www.indianasportscorp.com or www.visachampionshipseries.com. Tickets are available through all Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.ticketmaster.com.
The Indiana State Fairgrounds will turn into a miniature model for Austria’s upcoming World Gymnaestrada over the next few days.
Starting today and ending on Saturday, the Pepsi Blue Ribbon Pavilion will feature performances by gymnastic groups that may surprise audiences who expect Olympic-like events.
“This is a different kind of gymnastics than people are used to seeing,” USA Gymnastics Director Steve Whitlock said.
The format for the 2006 Group Gymnastics Nationals is similar to a dance recital. Squads from around the United States will dance and tumble on the floor. Whitlock calls it a spectator- friendly event because the gymnasts will entertain the audience with juggling, ribbon twirling, hand balancing and a variety of other moves.
Each day is packed with performances to keep the audience busy and engaged.
“Everyone in the audience is a performer,” Whitlock said. “Performers sit in the audience before and after their performance. You get a very different feeling when people are performing for one another and not competing against one another.”
The opening ceremony begins tonight at 6 p.m. Gymnasts will be presented and guest groups will perform.
For a full schedule of events visit www.usa-gymnastics.org/gg/. Tickets are $10 per day.
Local tennis professionals, college players and Midwest junior players take to the Indianapolis Tennis Center courts today to compete in the Pearson Ford Open.
The event will feature college athletes from Purdue University, University of Illinois, University of Louisville, Ohio State University and more. The 2005 runner-up, Ashwin Kumar, is entered to compete as well as Carmel resident Rajeev Ram, who is arguably Indy’s best representative in the Open. Notable high school players include Justin Kronauge, who is ranked first in the Midwest and sixth in the nation.
Prize money will be awarded to the singles and doubles winners, but the prestige of winning the Pearson Ford Open is the ultimate reward. The singles winner will also receive a wildcard entry into the qualifying rounds of the RCA Championships this year.
Preliminary rounds begin at 3 p.m. today. The tournament runs through Sunday. Admission is free.
The Pearson Ford Open is sanctioned by the United States Tennis Association. For more information, as well as a schedule for the event, visit www.usta.com. Click on the “tennislink” and enter Pearson Ford Open to search.