Wins for Bolt and his All Stars at Nitro

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    Usain Bolt head-to-head against a schoolgirl from Queensland. Luke Mathews and Genevieve LaCaze claiming a thrilling victory in the mixed three-minute challenge. Elimination miles. A near-capacity crowd.

    Welcome to track and field. But not as you know it.

    The first edition of the revolutionary Nitro Athletics series at Lakeside Stadium ticked plenty of boxes on Saturday night.

    For the record, the Bolt All Stars won the night with 1080 points, 30 clear of second-placed Australia in the six-team event.

    But this was much more about the spectacle than the overall result.

    About drawing new fans to a sport that’s struggling for traction in Australia and around the world.

    And about Bolt.

    The eight-time Olympic champion has committed to competing in all three Nitro events over an eight-day period.

    He lined up on Saturday in the second leg of the mixed 4x100m relay against three other men and two female sprinters – Mariko Nagano from Japan and 16-year-old Riley Day.

    With fellow Jamaican and former world record holder Asafa Powell running the opening leg for the All Stars against five women, Bolt was always going to get the baton well clear in first place.

    The gap was much bigger by the time he handed off to Jenna Prandini, although Day was also impressive.

    “Three months ago I never thought I’d be here signing autographs,” Day said.

    “I had to practise it to make sure I got it right.

    “(Bolt) was talking smack, saying, ‘We’re going to win, we’re going to win’. I was like, ‘I’m not taking this’.”

    Bolt readily admitted he had done some light-hearted trash-talking with his opponents.

    “That’s what makes it so good,” he said.

    “They know we are kidding but we are just having fun.

    “It’s different because they are not used to actually engaging with their competitors.”

    The All Stars won the mixed relay with plenty to spare, while Jack Hale stormed home to get third spot for Australia.

    One of the most exciting events of the night was the mixed three-minute challenge.

    Despite being required to step down from her preferred distances, Olympic steeplechase and 5000m finalist LaCaze had Australia in front at the halfway stage.

    With the big crowd roaring their approval, Mathews extended the advantage, finishing 10 metres clear of second-placed Kenyan Elijah Kipchirchir.

    Rising Australian middle distance star Matthew Ramsden, representing the Bolt All Stars, outsprinted compatriot Jeff Riseley to win the men’s elimination mile.

    The last-placed runner after each of the first three laps was cut from the race, making for a compelling mix of sprinting and jogging.

    The women’s elimination mile was more straightforward, with Rio Olympian Linden Hall claiming a commanding victory for the home team.

    Other Australian winners included Michelle Jenneke in the 100m hurdles and Kurtis Marschall, who tied for top spot in the pole vault.

    The remaining two Nitro Series meets are on Thursday and next Saturday.

    © AAP 2017