Sally Pearson is reportedly poised to announce her retirement from athletics just a year out from the Tokyo Olympics.
It was announced on Monday in the Financial Review that Athletics Australia plan to launch a Big Bash League-style athletics series early next year.
The Nitro Summer Athletics League, to launch in February 2017, is aiming to attract the wider public and sponsors to the sport.
Athletics Australia president Mark Arbib and chief executive officer Phil Jones have reportedly had several meetings with free-to-air broadcasters.
The idea is set to feature Australian and several star international athletes during a two-hour primetime Saturday slot, which broadcasters have been receptive to.
“We have not changed the fundamental product of the sport for 50 years,” Jones told the Financial Review. “So this is about enhancing the opportunities for our athletes and packaging the event for a live and broadcast audience.
“And we have talked about it with some of the athletes and they have said ‘yes’. The younger ones, in particular, are keen to see some change and for the public to be more exposed to the talent that we have got.”
Core details of how the competition will run have not been released yet, however apparently the teams will be split evenly between males and females, with some events being mixed. Points will be accrued per team and non-participating captains will be appointed.
“Athletics really is the sleeping giant of Australian sport,” Arbib said.
“The potential participation numbers we have through our recreational running and walking networks are enormous and the opportunities we provide for corporate Australia to engage with the community grassroots, but also our outstanding athletes, is unrivalled.”
With the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, it is a great time for the sport to show itself off to the rest of the Australian sporting community.
Athletics Australia are believed to be releasing their strategic vision within the next few months, which will highlight the need for a ‘one sport’ approach. Arbib outlined the need for a closer connection with Little Athletics, as well as the fast-growing recreational running industry.
“We want to promote the ‘one sport’ or ‘one club’ ethos and ensure all parts of the sport are aligned and working to a common vision,” Jones said, while noting that sponsors were also keen to support the grassroots side of sports as well as the elite level.