Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Devonish: Athletics Goes Back to Basics; Sprint Star Relishing Running on the Streets Again

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Devonish: Athletics Goes Back to Basics; Sprint Star Relishing Running on the Streets Again

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Purewal

HAPPY to hark back to playground foot races when he screams through Quayside tomorrow, Marlon Devonish believes stripping sprinting bare is vital to the future of athletics.

The Great North City Games starts today in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge, with the pole vault and shot bringing free top-level athletics to the masses, before Devonish, Christine Ohuruogu and Co wrap up the programme tomorrow.

The British team goes head-to-head with Australia for a tournament designed to woo the uninitiated, aiming to take advantage of Great North Run weekend.

Coventry-born Devonish competes in his second 150m street sprint tomorrow on purpose-built straight four-lane track on the Quayside - but this time without Usain Bolt for company.

If the 33-year-old was sceptical in the build-up to his street debut against Bolt in Manchester, the electricity shocked him into immediate conversion.

The purity of a street foot race blew him away, he said, even more so than Bolt's first world record of an incredible year.

"I guess it is stripping it back," said Devonish. "Obviously there's a lot of technology gone into the track, but it's taking the whole sport right back to the basics of 'on your marks, get set, go!' "You just go for it and see who's the quickest and we all did that as kids again and again and again among our friends. All those sorts of memories come flooding back and it offers something totally different, people could just be in Newcastle chilling and stumble upon this by mistake, and that's the beauty of it.

"I was a very athletic kid so I did all the sports really, but I started watching athletics on TV, it drew me in and I felt like I could do what they were doing.

"But there's so many ways people can be inspired and this is just one of those. We've had problems getting the fans into the stadiums, so bringing the track to the streets takes the sport right to the people. …

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