Who will be the stars of tomorrow in track and field?

Nobody knows for certain, but there’s a good chance that many of those future Olympians will be competing at the 2014 IAAF World Junior Championships at Hayward Field.

Eugene was awarded the bid to host the meet one year ago, thus marking the first time the biennial event will be held in the U.S.

The six-day competition is a showcase for the world’s best track and field athletes under the age of 20. An estimated 2,000 athletes from nearly 180 countries are expected to participate.

On Tuesday, a six-member IAAF delegation finished its first formal visit to Eugene. They met with key officials from the Local Organizing Committee and inspected all of the competition venues and accommodations for athletes and officials.

“We’ve had a great time looking around Eugene because it’s such an iconic location for our sport,” said IAAF Council member Abby Hoffman, a four-time Olympian from Canada.

“We’re delighted that Eugene put its candidacy forward to bid for the world juniors. It took a long time but it’s happening, and we think that’s great.”

There were two converging forces that resulted in the meet’s coming to Eugene — the IAAF’s desire to bring one of its championship events to the U.S., and the community’s legacy of successfully staging big-time events, from the Prefontaine Classic to the U.S. Olympic Trials.

The IAAF did not need to be sold on the Eugene brand.

“We understand the history of Track Town, USA,” IAAF competitions director Paul Hardy said. “There are a lot of places around the country that might follow the Olympics every four years, but to really understand who these athletes are, and understand the sport on a day-to-day basis, you won’t find that anywhere else like you will here.”

One of the biggest challenges in hosting the World Junior Championships is finding adequate housing for all of the competing athletes, many of whom will be leaving their homes, and their countries, for the first time.

In Eugene, that problem was solved when the University of Oregon made its dormitories available to the visiting athletes and officials. The meet will be held July 22-27.

“At the junior level, we’re happy to come and stay in university dorms,” Hardy said. “In the past, there have been huge logistical challenges to secure hotel rooms, and then arrange for transportation (to the track).

“Here, everything is resolved. We have very good accommodations close to the stadium, and we don’t have to worry about the number of rooms.”

Vin Lananna, co-chair and president of the LOC, said his organization had few obstacles to mount once local stakeholders were educated on what the World Junior Championships were all about.

“As soon as everybody understood what it was, it was easy to get everybody on board,” he said. “We’re excited to have the IAAF here. We didn’t know all of these people before it started, but now we feel like we have developed a great friendship. I think we all have similar objectives; we’re all into the promotion and growth of the sport.”

Most UO recruits have competed at the U.S. or World Junior Championships. It’s an important step in their development as a young athlete.

This will be the 15th edition of the meet, which was first held in Greece in 1986.

from: http://www.registerguard.com/web/sports/29036474-41/eugene-iaaf-track-athletes-junior.html.csp

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