Top athletes from the world of track and field competed in the Adidas Atlanta City Games.

The smiles generated during the second running of the Adidas Atlanta City Games are proof positive track and field is a fan favorite. The sport is technically a bunch of sports or events in one. Here are five reasons track and field deserves attention every year.

Fun and fan-focused

Grant Holloway signs a fans’ poster after winning the men’s 110-meter hurdles. Photo credit Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360 Sports

A gloomy forecast of torrential rains was not enough to hinder fans from flocking to Piedmont Park to lay eyes on genuine Olympic medalists and hopefuls from 11 countries. This year, fans lined the red carpet to take photos as the competitors exited limos entering the park. Atlanta has been given the nickname Hollywood South after all.

The layout allowed fans to shift from the long jump pit to the pole vault area relatively quickly. Moving from the field events area to the track required a few more steps. Most crowded around the finish line in anticipation of getting an autograph on a poster or a selfie with the winner. Aspiring athletes from Atlanta Zoom Track Club took a bit of a different approach. The young ladies raced around the elevated straightaway to take photos with Anna Hall, Aleia Hobbs, and local prep star Candace Hill as they exited the track.

Hobbs ran a season’s best 10.88 to win the women’s 100-meter dash and celebrated with a dance. California native and 2021 All-American sprinter Celera Barnes, the third-place finisher in the 150-meter dash, joined Hobbs in the dance much to the delight of the crowd.

More Recognizable Athletes

There are 44 events covered under the sport of track and field. Women and men competing at the same meet sets the sport above all others. There are more than 130,000 track and field athletes competing in the U.S. There are even more outside the country where the sport is so highly regarded athletes are recognized off the track.

Whereas most of the popular professional sports are limited by a cap on the number of players that can be on a team, track and field stretches all the way into the collegiate ranks. In the case of rising superstar Quincy Wilson, he made a name for himself as a sophomore at Bullis High School.

No Debating GOATS

Legendary 400-meter sprinter Edwin Moses trackside at the Adidas Atlanta City Games.

Edwin Moses won 107 consecutive finals in the 400-meter hurdles, set the record in the event four times, and won Olympic gold in Montreal (1976) and Los Angeles (1984). It is likely the Morehouse alum and 1979 IAAF World Cup gold medalist would have duplicated the effort in the Soviet Union had it not been for the boycott. His feat easily puts him as the Greatest of All Time in the event and in the running for all track and field.

Others in the conversation include Allyson Felix, who could probably make an airplane out of all the metal used to make the medals she earned over her career. A career that started 20 years ago at just 17 years old just months after graduating from Los Angeles Baptist High School.

There is just no substitute for running the fastest, throwing the farthest or jumping the longest or highest. Do that over a long period of time while setting a record or two in the process and the debate gets easy.

Built-in Rivalries

Justin Gatlin, USA tries to catch Usain Bolt, JAM at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. (c. Randy Miyazaki, Track & Field News)

Everyone likes a winner. Competitors like to win. To win you have to best every person in the event, including the defending champion(s). Before Noah Lyles and Grant Holloway climbed to the top of their respective events, Americans Justin Gatlin and Aries Merritt were top dogs for a while. Merritt, a native of Cobb County and Olympic gold medalist in London, set the record in the men’s 110-meter hurdles world record on September 7, 2012, with a time of 12.80 seconds. His closest competition in London was fellow American Jason Richardson. Holloway’s fastest competitors are all U.S.-based. Four of the fastest five times are by Americans Daniel

Roberts, Cordell Tinch, Freddie Crittenden, and Ja’Kobe Tharpe. The only non-American in the mix is Japan’s Shunsuke Izumiya.

Gatlin and Gay were America’s best hope at defeating world record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica. At the 2015 World Championships, Bolt ran a 9.79 to edge out Gatlin’s 9.80. The pair added to their rivalry by running on their countries’ 4 x 100-meter relay teams. Kenya’s Ferdinand Omanyala, the Republic of South Africa’s Akani Simbine, and Jamaica’s Oblique Seville are all looking to dethrone Lyles. All three competed on Saturday. Simbine ran a world-leading 9.90 seconds to edge out Omanyala in the men’s 100-meter dash. Seville ran a personal best of 19.96 seconds to win the men’s 200-meter dash. And Lyles? He won the men’s 150-meter dash in 14.41 seconds. Lyles will compete against all of them as he tries to duplicate his triple gold in France.

Rivalry – check.

Athletes Love It

Aleia Hobbs is surrounded by young fans at the Adidas Atlanta City Games.

More than anything, track and field deserves your attention because the athletes love it. Over 1 million athletes compete in high school track and field across America alone. Lyles expressed his disappointment last year in how the sport is marketed here.

Historic meets like the Penn Relays in Philadelphia draw huge crowds, especially from Jamaicans living in the U.S. The flags are everywhere in support of their high school, collegiate, and professional athletes competing in the event.

The Adidas Atlanta City Games saw a lot of flags from Kenya, RSA, and Jamaica in the crowd in support of their countrymen. And the athletes know their fans are there. While the young people were grinning ear-to-ear posing for photos with the stars, those stars were beaming just as brightly at the opportunity to interact.

Side Note:

Economically it makes sense. There are people over 60 and 70 years of age still competing in Master’s events. There are no other sports that can boast a demographic as robust as track and field.

Results

Event Men Women
100 meter dash Akani Simbine (RSA) 9.90 s Aleia Hobbs (USA) 10.88 s
110 m hurdle/ 100 m hurdle Grant Holloway (USA) 13.07 s Kendra Harrison (USA) 12.67 s
150 meter dash Noah Lyles (USA) 14.41 s Candace Hill (USA) 16.30 s
200 meter dash Oblique Seville (JAM) 19.96 s Lynna Irby-Jackson (USA) 22.67 s
Long Jump Tara Davis-Woodhall (USA) 7.17 m, 23′-6.25”
Pole Vault Brynn King (USA) 4.54 m 14′-10.75”

Photo Gallery

All images by Jason McDonald, JM Photography for CORE360SPORTS.COM

2024 Adidas Atlanta City Games