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Why Are the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon?

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World athletics championships are generally held in the world’s capitals. Rome, Beijing, Moscow, Paris and London are all in order to host the largest non-Olympic sports events.

This year it will be held for the first time in the United States. So how exactly did the World Athletics Championships end in Eugene, Oregon, a crispy college town with 170,000 people who isn’t the capital?

The answer to that question is some quirks in both history and the sneaker business, combining Eugene as the unofficial capital of American management, or “TrackTown USA,” with the evolution of college-owned powers over the last 120 years. Includes. The city likes to call itself.

Befitting, the World Championships take place at a stadium called Hayward Field, so the story begins with Bill Hayward, the first famous athletics coach at the University of Oregon. (There are several.) Hayward took over the program in 1904, and only 15 years after starting his 44-year coaching career, the university named the football stadium after him and held a track meeting there. did.

Hayward leads a series of Olympic champions, medalists, and world record holders who chase nerds, and while Jepady champions are familiar, most others don’t. Through them, Hayward has established Eugene as America’s premier running destination.

It’s hard to underestimate how Bill Bowerman has had a significant impact on running and athletics, both in the United States and abroad. The journey began in 1948, when Bauerman took over Hayward as Oregon’s headtrack and field coach.

Former Governor’s son, Bauerman, ran for Hayward and became a high school teacher and football coach. He has undoubtedly produced dozens of Olympic athletes and champions, including Steve Prefontaine, the most mythical of all of them.

Prefontaine, or the “pre” he was once known for, grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon, ran for the University of Oregon, and at some point in the 1970s held all American records from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters. .. He was the embodiment of the rebellious beauty of running that captured the spirit of the times, but “Pre” died in a car accident in 1975 at the age of 24, just as he hit the prime minister. rice field. Eugene’s trail, which many runners train this week, is the “Pre’s Trail,” a bucketlist visit for serious runners.

Bauerman was far more than his athlete.

When he visited New Zealand in 1962 to visit the famous running coach Arthur Lydiard, Bauerman learned the concept of “jogging.” This is an easier pace for both elite athletes and those interested in fitness. He is one of those believed to have brought America the concepts that helped create the running boom of the 1970s.

If that wasn’t enough, I also devised a sole design for running shoes by pouring rubber into a waffle iron in the kitchen. This is a design that remains everywhere today. And in 1964, he started trading with his ex-Mylar and launched a shoe company called Blue Ribbon Sports. This company later became a fairly successful company, Nike. Perhaps you have heard of it.

Bauerman’s oversized reputation helped Hayward Field seduce the Men’s Olympic Trial in athletics in 1972. The stadium did not lose its prewar charm. There was an atmosphere of Fenway Park. It’s a place that suggests something important has happened, and despite track meetings elsewhere in the United States struggling to find an audience, locals have a place for big competitions. I packed it.

Six more Olympic trials have been held since 1972, and Hayward Field now looks like a spaceship.

But the former Mylar, who co-founded Nike with Bill Bowerman, wanted something more. Phil Knight often does.

Knight never lost his love for the ideas of Eugene, Oregon, which is listed in the world’s capitals of running, athletics, college, and running.

Since he became one of the wealthiest men in the world, Knight has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Oregon’s athletic and academic institutions.

He and his wife, Penny, were the main sponsors of Hayward Field’s $ 270 million refurbishment between 2018 and 2020. One of the reasons for the refurbishment was to create the right facilities to host the World Athletics Championships.

Eugene initially bid for the 2019 World Athletics Championships, but lost to Doha, Qatar.

The result did not work for certain circles. The United States has dominated athletics at the Olympic Games for decades, but has never hosted this event. In the United States, more teens participate in athletics than in any other sport, but participation in professional competitions is sparse.

Perhaps the idea is advanced, big events may change the situation in the world’s largest sports market. In 2015, World Athletics announced that it had awarded Eugene the 2021 Championship without a bidding process.

After that, a pandemic occurred and the world sports calendar was changed. The Olympic Games have been postponed from 2020 to 2021, and the World Athletics Championships have also been delayed by one year. However, on Friday night, an event of about 120 years was finally held at “Track Town, USA”.

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