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Oregon21 ushers in countdown to IAAF World Championships in Eugene

Oregon Governor Kate Brown was on hand to introduce the 2021 World Track Championships in Eugene.

Posted: Oct 10, 2019 11:07 PM
Updated: Oct 11, 2019 10:59 AM

Eugene, Ore. -- Needless to say, everyone from Oregon Governor Kate Brown to World Champion hammer thrower Deanna Price are excited for the announcement of Oregon 21.

"The first world championships (in the United States) has to be in Oregon," Deanna Price, current world hammer throwing champion said with a smile. "There was no ifs, ands or buts about it. If it was somewhere else, I'd actually be a little bit disappointed. Because to me, I've had national championships here, I've had Olympic Trials here, there's nothing better than a Eugene crowd trying to support you and it's been fantastic."

Eugene will be the first United States city to host an IAAF World Track Championship event, spearheaded by Governor Kate Brown, as well as the University of Oregon.

"I think the investments that we make in this event will pay off for decades to come, not only for Eugene but for the entire state of Oregon," Gov. Brown told reporters.

The state will also need to kick in an additional $20 million after Brown reassured IAAF officials that they would be able to raise the money before the start of the game. A state tax on hotel rooms and grants from the state's tourism agencies have provided the first $20 million. But Governor Brown is confident that the rest of the money can be made up.

"I'm confident that we will have the resources that we need to pull this event off," Gov. Brown said. "We have a number of legislators that should we say are all in and I am confident we will have the resources we need. We will be bringing folks from all over the world to Eugene. They will be able to taste the incredible food that we produce here. They will be able to see the amazing beauty about Oregon and we're gonna make it a unique experience."

Governor Brown also didn't rule out potential Olympic aspirations for the area as well.

"I'm not gonna say yes to that but I do think there's some interesting conversations about what other types of events we could host and could we partner with other folks in the region to host an Olympics on the west coast," followed up Gov. Brown.

And for some athletes, who have fond memories of the old Hayward Field, the excitement of a new, world class venue adds some new spark.

"I really believe that the history of that doesn't need to be forgotten and I don't think it will be," says 2019 Team USA co-captain Sam Kendricks. "But this new stadium puts us into the future. It takes the next generation of athletes that says we have a place for you and it's real, and it's gonna be here a long, long time."

New Hayward will be christened with the 2020 Pac-12 Championships and Olympic Trials, but in 2021, the stadium and the city of Eugene will have it's moment on the world stage.

However, what was a triumphant day for the University of Oregon, the state and Oregon21 also had questions surrounding Alberto Salazar, the former Oregon runner and current coach with the Nike Oregon Project, suspended by the United States Anti Doping Agency for a violation of anti doping rules.

"Anybody that knows anything about this sport knopws that there's a black shadow, a black cloud whatever analogy you wanna make over [the Nike Oregon Project]," world champion Jenny Simpson strongly told reporters at the 2019 World Championships in Doha. "And so why anyone wants to be a part of that group I have no idea."

Simpson's comments touched off a back and forth between runners and track athletes in general regarding the allegations and Nike Oregon Project runners, of whom some are former Ducks.

"What do you have against me and Jessica Hull?" Craig Engels shot back when asked about his reaction to Simpson's comments. "[Dominic Brazier] and her just joined. Jenny's just brutal, the more people that Jenny says are dirty it's like are you saying they're not capable of running what you are?"

Yet at the Oregon21 kickoff event, current US track & field athletes kept the light shined on the positives of their sport and the history being made in Eugene.

"I know athletes are really close to this and I hope they take a stepback, they allow this to play out the way it will and then we can all grow past it," Kendricks mentioned. "I think however it plays itself out I hope it does so lightly because this is going to be the staging ground for the next generation of our sport."

The Nike Oregon Project was dissolved on Thursday, per a report in RunnersWorld, citing an internal memo from Nike CEO Mark Parker to those within the company. 

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