May 8, 2024
Kurt Benson

From Paradise to Paris – World Athletic Championship Relays Bahamas 2024 (2 minute read)

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When the Tidal League was born, I'm not sure I would have believed anyone if they had told me that we would be partnering with Olympians. Fast forward to today, we partner with two of the fastest human beings of all time, Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin. When both of these opportunities came to life, the only thing I knew about track and field was the 100M Sprint, which I watched every four years at the Olympic Games. I mean, I'm pretty sure most people in the world are familiar with the 100M at the Olympics as it's the crown jewel, and at some point, in our lives, most of us have run, so it's a sport/activity that we can all somewhat relate to. 

Over the last two years, I have gone from a casual fan to someone who absolutely loves track and field, and that's in large part due to Asafa and Justin. More specifically, working with both Justin and his co-host, who is a former athlete and now coach, Rodney Green, I have learned a lot about the sport and have tremendous respect for the athletes in this sport. I find myself engrossed in their show "Ready Set Go" and following the circuit weekly from independent track meets through to Diamond League meets. The beauty of "Ready Set Go" is that you have one of the greatest athletes of the sport and a track and field savant in Rodney Green, who brings weekly coverage and awareness to the sport in a very non-biased and factual way. In building "Ready Set Go" from nothing, we had our fair share of challenges in year one, but staying true to the goals of pushing the sport forward, we have broken through in 2024 by creating an entirely new community of track and field enthusiasts, as well as track fans that for so long have yearned for such an outlet. 

With all this to say, we just spent last weekend in the Bahamas for the World Athletics Championship Relays. An event that covered the mixed, 100M, and 400M events for the world, not only was this a World Championship event with prize money and the opportunity to represent your country, but it also served as the qualifier for the 2024 Olympic Games. This was my very first track meet, and I was spoiled because it wasn't your everyday meet. This was a World Championship that I was credentialed for, and I was attending with one of the sports G.O.A.T.'s in Justin Gatlin. I have spent time with Justin in public, and it's always amazing to see people coming up to him and showing their respects and his openness to take pictures with fans. 

However, I have never been with him in his domain, and to witness the love and respect at this event was truly inspiring, albeit not easy to leave the stadium because so many people wanted to take pictures with him, and he literally didn't say no to a single person whether it was a young fan or a police officer, he welcomed the opportunity to interact with every fan. This also continues to show why he is loved in the sport; he competed at a very high level over such a long period of time, he poured everything he had into the sport, and now, post-retirement, he is passing on that knowledge to the general public and to the next generation of athletes, he is truly selfless. As we stood in the media scrum at the finish line, the athletes came across and walked by. As soon as they saw Justin, it was incredible to watch their reactions and see how Justin embraced all of them. The hugs, high fives, and continued message of how he inspired them to compete was something I will never forget, a true legacy that he has instilled in the sport and continues to build, a living legend. As each athlete interacted with him, Justin would give them feedback and encourage them to continue this journey of being the best versions of themselves.

The event was energizing; I was able to see in real-time how amazing these athletes are and witness the pressure that comes with the territory of representing an entire nation in its quest to compete at the upcoming Olympics. From the joy of winning to realizing you qualified for the Olympics to the heartbreak of not qualifying and knowing that you may never have the chance to get to the Olympics. It was an energy at times that gave you true euphoria, watching these athletes celebrate and feeling the crowds roar right through your body. The flip side was seeing athletes break down in tears when they realized they came up short. This is a sport that doesn't exist in quarters, halves, or 7-game series; in most cases, it takes as little as 10 seconds to make it count. The pressure is immense, and one small mistake can cost you another four years of waiting. 

As the track and field season continues with all eyes set on this summer in Paris at the Olympics, we have a ton of major storylines that we are following in numerous events. We look forward to following along and providing coverage on all of it with "Ready Set Go" streaming on YouTube and all audio platforms. Be sure to subscribe to follow along. We sat down with some amazing athletes over the weekend in the Bahamas, so be sure to look out for those episodes released in the coming weeks, starting this week with the 100M African Record holder Ferdinand Omanyala. As we continue to bring live coverage of the sport, we look ahead to U.S.A. trials, where we plan to be back on the ground next month. 

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