Usain Bolt (Getty Images)
Lausanne - As Usain Bolt parties in London, around 30 Olympic medallists
including nine champions have headed to Switzerland for the first major track
and field meeting since the Rio de Janeiro Games.
none are named Bolt — now being photographed daily outside nightclubs by
British paparazzi — and without the sport's biggest star there are unsold
tickets for the Athletissima meet in the Diamond League series.
absence lets fellow Jamaican sprint gold medallists Elaine Thompson and Omar
McLeod take centre stage at the 14,000-capacity stadium in the International
Olympic Committee's home city of Lausanne.
director Jacky Delapierre said the stadium would have been sold out "for
sure" if Bolt was running, though noted the sport must get ready for a new
have to be prepared for the future without Bolt," Delapierre, who has
worked in track for nearly 40 years, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
"We are at the end of a cycle now."
is in talks to bring Bolt back to Lausanne for likely the last time next July
ahead of the 2017 world championships in London.
can have a show without Bolt," the veteran organizer said, reminding that
the stadium was full for his July 2015 meeting. "You have to sell a show.
There (are) new athletes."
up track's headline series is a priority for meet directors, who plan talks in
Brussels next month after the Diamond League finals program. Some already met
with IAAF President Sebastian Coe in Rio this month, Delapierre said.
think athletics has a good future beside Bolt," he said, urging the sport
to work now on finding a new vision. "We have not to wait for one more
year with Bolt."
to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 22-year-old McLeod could build on his 110
meters hurdles gold to become a star.
know for sure the sport won't die when Bolt is gone," the former
University of Arkansas student told The AP. "I know that there are a lot
of athletes who will step up to the plate, especially in the sprints."
acknowledged that, although Bolt's showmanship can't be copied, athletes need
to entertain the crowds.
definitely think personality goes a long way," he said. "People pay
to see personality, people pay to see fast times."
champions also in action Thursday include 100 and 200 champion Thompson in the
shorter event, while Bolt's 4x100 relay teammate Asafa Powell headlines the
Centrowitz, the 1,500 champion, runs in a rare 1,000-meter race, and other
United States gold medallists include Dalilah Muhammad in the 400 hurdles,
Michelle Carter in shot put, and Tianna Bartoletta in long jump.
100 hurdles, Kendra Harrison aims at the 12.20 seconds world record she set in
London last month after missing out on selection for the American Olympic team.