Usain Bolt has unveiled his All-Stars line up for Nitro Athletics Melbourne, announcing a team featuring five Olympic champions and several young guns on the verge of stardom.
With ten days to go until the opening night the team is fully loaded, and includes four young Australians who Bolt has selected as rising young stars of Australian athletics.
Bolt’s squad will be the one to beat when they take on Australia, England, New Zealand, China and Japan at Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium over three nights commencing Saturday week, 4th February.
The Australian contingent includes two nineteen-year-old West Australians, world junior championship finalists 1500m runner Matthew Ramsden and pole vaulter Nina Kennedy. They will be joined by World University Games long jump bronze medalist Naa Anang (QLD) and three-time national 800m champion Brittany McGowan (QLD).
Bolt’s team is stacked with talent including Rio Olympic 400m hurdles champion Kerron Clement and Beijing Olympic 100m hurdles champion Dawn Harper Nelson.
Naturally, Bolt has chosen to bring along his world-beating Jamaican relay teammates in Asafa Powell and Michael Frater – both Olympic gold medallists. Powell is a former world record holder, still the fourth fastest man of all time and has broken 10 seconds for the 100m a record 97 times.
“Of course I’m going to bring my fellow Jamaicans, they were the first to be picked,” Bolt said.
“The team has so much talent across all the events so I’m expecting us to put on a good show, and win, of course.
“I’m happy to have the four young Australians… it’s going to be tough for them when we hand Team Australia some trouble, but they are on my team now.
“It’s going to be fun, I can’t wait to get down to Melbourne, see the crowd and be part of something that will change the sport of track and field.”
Bolt has added a stellar women’s sprint cast, including 2012 Olympic relay gold medallist Jeneba Tarmoh (USA), world championship 4x400m gold medalist Christine Day (JAM), world championship 4x100m gold medalist Natasha Morrison (JAM) and Olympic 200m semi-finalist Jenna Prandini (USA).
Two world-class para-athletes have also been selected in Bolt’s All-Stars including US sprinter Jarryd Wallace, a former world record holder in both the T44 100m and 200m events.
The team will get some versatility from reigning Olympic 400m hurdles champion Kerron Clement who is a world class sprinter with or without the barriers.
Two former NCAA stars in Olympic long jump fourth place getter Jarrion Lawson and Prandini are perfect additions to the team offering world-class talent in both the sprints and long jump.
Australian youngster Matt Ramsden will form a strong distance group for the All-Stars that features Kenyan James Magut, the 2014 Commonwealth Games 1500m champion with a personal best of 3:30.61.
“I consider myself privileged for getting the opportunity to represent one of the sport’s biggest ever names and to meet him too,” Ramsden said.
Ramsden’s selection pits him against Australian Olympic 1500m finalist Ryan Gregson, across a series of distances races including the elimination mile.
“Like always I’ll line up to win, yes there may be guys who are faster than me on paper but that won’t stop me from doing everything in my power to win.
“I can easily say this is the fittest I’ve ever been in my life so I guess the sky’s the limit for me at Nitro.”
Former world junior pole vault record holder Nina Kennedy, still a teenager who came fourth at the world junior championships in 2014, is another local athlete along with long jumper Naa Anang, who will relish the opportunity to compete alongside Bolt.
“I’m feeling a range of emotions,” Kennedy said of her selection.
“He’s the best athlete this sport has ever seen, and looking up to him from such a young age makes competing in the same team as him an unthinkable experience really.
“I’m feeling everything from pure excitement to nervous butterflies, I’m excited to try push some big heights at Nitro.”
Three-time national 800m champion Brittany McGowan is another Australian on the Bolt All-Stars team looking forward to showing her speed in the modified distance races such as the elimination mile.