Centre hosts Olympians and Bluegrass State Games
June 13, 2013 By Elizabeth Trollinger
for NBC and CBS track and field, leads a session on relay racing.
This year's camp will culminate with the Bluegrass State Games meet.
Centre is the place to be for athletes this summer, as the College hosts its annual Maximum Velocity Track and Field Academy in conjunction with the track and field portion of the Bluegrass State Games (BGSG) on June 12-15.
High school students from across the state will put their best feet forward during both events—and will have the chance to work with some of the most notable names in the sport.
"It is very exciting to me for us to be able to host these events at Centre," says Lisa Owens, head track coach at the College. "My own children will be participating [in the BGSG] and I am looking forward to putting on the best track meet possible and showing off our facility."
The BGSG was established by former Kentucky governor Martha Layne Collins in 1985. Kentuckians of all ages are encouraged to participate in the Games, with different sports hosted at other institutions across the Commonwealth. Owens is no stranger to the BGSG.
"I participated in the BGSG many years when I was younger," Owens says. "It is like the Olympics of Kentucky."
That's an understatement—especially this year, with a bevy of well-known Olympians traveling to Centre to participate in the BGSG.
Eight Olympic athletes will serve as clinicians for the camp: Sharrieffa Barksdale; Rose Monday; Jamie Nieto, the 2012 U.S. High Jump Champion, who finished sixth in the London Olympics last summer; Ato Boldon, 4-time Olympic medal winner and broadcast analyst for CBS and NBC track and field; Reedus Thurmond; Jeff Hartwig; Walter Davis; and Kevin Young, who still holds the world record in the 400 meter hurdles.
Young enjoys participating in the Academy for multiple reasons.
"This event gives us Olympians an opportunity to be relevant both to our organization [USA Track and Field] and to the up-and-coming athletes in our sport," he says.
"I get to see Olympians here that I haven't seen in years," he adds. "I try to stay as connected as I can with fellow Olympians, and this camp is a perfect way to do it. I also love seeing the youngsters that were here last year—the ones that are back for more because of their dedication to the sport."
Sharrieffa Barksdale, an Olympic 400 meter hurdler and one of the founders of the Maximum Velocity Track and Field Academy, enjoys working with young athletes as well.
"It's great seeing kids' faces light up when they're learning something and knowing that they dedicated three and a half days to learn from the best of the best," she says.
"I'm grateful that I have Olympian friends who believe in me enough to accept my invitation to participate in this," she adds. "Anybody who knows me knows that you cannot say no to Sharrieffa!"
Olympians have worked as clinicians at Maximum Velocity in the past, which has been highly popular—and Owens volunteered Centre to host the track and field portion of the BGSG as a capstone to the camp.
"At the end our camp the past two years we have always had a mock track meet for the campers. I thought that an actual track & field competition for medals against other competitors besides just campers would be a great way to finish our camp," Owens says. "The BGSG organization liked the idea and we decided to partner to make this happen. I think that this will be a great thing for our camp and for the BGSG.
"Centre College and Danville are the perfect places to host this event," Owens continues. "We have wonderful facilities here at Centre, and Danville is a great central location for the Games."
For more information on the Maximum Velocity Track and Field Academy, click here.
For more about the Bluegrass State Games, click here.
Centre College, founded in 1819, is a nationally ranked liberal arts college in Danville, Ky. Centre hosted its second Vice Presidential Debate on 10.11.12, and remains the smallest college in the smallest town ever to host a general election debate. For more, click here.