EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – Track Town 2012 is guaranteed to draw in thousands of people from around the world for the Olympic track and field trials.
Planners are in a race of their own, preparing to make 2012’s run smoother than four years prior.
“To run track town 12 and to make it the best event ever in the best town ever, now we’re getting down to the 120 days to go. Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty,” said Assistant athletic director, University of Oregon track coach and co-chair of the trials Vin Lananna.
Dozens of key coordinators met for the fifth time today in a day-long conference discussing what the US Olympic trials are going to look like. With a lot of comparing to 2008, the group feels they’ve learned some lessons and have done nothing but improve their ideas for this year.
Lananna told NewsSource 16 that as athletes arrive, all eyes will be on Eugene.
While Eugene as a whole will celebrate the trials June 22nd to July 1st, the event is mainly about the athlete’s experience. Lananna said we need to remember the focus.
“Almost every day there will be a drama that unfolds regarding our local athletes,” he said. “We have the best athletes in the world and they’re coming together.”
Full of excitement and stress, Eugene will serve as the gateway to the London Olympics.
“There is no other way to get to London for the Olympic Games except through the Olympic trials,” Vinanna said. “It’s one dream. That dream is to get on and get to the Olympic Games and to win a medal.”
To qualify for London, athletes will be required to place in the top three of their event.
“It’s every four years you try to make the Olympic team and for many it's just one shot. This is the crown jewel of the sport of track and field. The rest of the world envies the athletes we have, we have the greatest athletes in the world, they're all going to come together and all have one goal...and that is to make the Olympic team,” said Lananna.
Hayward Field won’t be the only place buzzing with excitement, though, as Travel Lane County along with other agencies are making sure to prepare entertainment, hotels, restaurants, stores and more. Travel Lane County said the event is sure to boost the local economy, creating additional jobs and in the tourism attracted to the event.
“Hotel rooms are still available,” said Janis Ross from Travel Lane County. “Tickets are still available.”
Ross said the event is expected to draw in about $28 million dollars.
“There is not only the staff of the project management team that work actively on the event but then there’s all kinds of auxiliary jobs than an event like this can help create. It keeps people employed in hotels, restaurants, gas stations and stores.”
Ross told NewsSource 16 that dozens of big running events have their eyes set on Eugene not only for the trials, but as a future location to host their meets. That means hundreds of thousands of additional dollars for the area.
The same athletes, the ones who have one goal and one goal only – to qualify for London and win a medal - will also leave with a part of Eugene in them and hopefully return one day to run again.