Athletics is in search of the next Usain Bolt and may have found him in US speedster Jarrion Lawson.
He was compared to the great Jesse Owens when he won the 100m, 200m and long jump titles at the NCAA Championships in 2016, and this year, US athlete Lawson has been picked for Usain Bolt’s All-Stars for Nitro Athletics Melbourne.
In Melbourne the pocket-rocket will be a key weapon for Bolt’s team, both on the track and in the sandpit, where he will launch against Australia’s Diamond League champion Fabrice Lapierre. With a windy 9.90sec (+2.7) and a heat run in Rio with the US 4x100m team after making the final the straight dash at the US Trials, Lawson is multi-talent and well suited to the Nitro Athletics team format.
Eighty years after Owens won his college titles, 22-year-old Lawson, competing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, became the first person since Owens to win the same three NCCA titles exciting the athletics world with his natural sprinting and jumping talent.
In 2016 Lawson made his first Olympic team, qualifying for the long jump at the US Olympic Trials with a personal best leap of 8.58m (w+1.8).
In an incredible long jump final in Rio, sitting in fourth, Lawson’s final jump of the night had seemingly put him into the gold medal position before it was revealed that his trailing finger scraped the sand, reducing his jump and agonisingly finishing in fourth place.
Lawson will join the Bolt All-Stars for Nitro Athletics Melbourne in a series that kicks off next month and will see Australia take on Usain Bolt’s All-Stars, China, England, Japan and New Zealand in a new look athletics format at Melbourne’s Lakeside Stadium on Saturday 4th, Thursday 9th and Saturday 11th February 2017.
Bolt will be joined by four fellow Olympic champions including Rio 400m hurdles gold medallist Kerron Clement, Jamaican relay teammates Asafa Powell and Michael Frater along with 2008 Olympic hurdles champion Dawn Harper Nelson from the United States.
“Rio was a great experience for me – I loved it,” Lawson said.
“It was my first Olympic experience so I made sure I took every bit of it in. The long jump was a great competition with great competitors. Of course I thought I had won at the end, but that finger kept me from moving onto the medal stand. However, I felt that I did my best, and I captured the moment as best as possible,” Lawson said.
A world junior bronze medallist in 2012, Lawson plans to continue to develop both his sprinting and jumping abilities in the future.
“I plan to make a big leap in my sprinting events. I plan to set some new personal records, and yes, I plan on going under 10 seconds and hopefully under 20 multiple times!”
Coming from a team-minded environment in the college system, Lawson is looking forward to the prospect of a team-based competition at Nitro Athletics.
Given his versatility Lawson will be a huge factor in the Bolt All-Stars line up, with the capacity to sprint, run relays and long jump with world class abilities across a range of events.
“I love the team aspect! I’m a big team player, like I was in college. It makes the sport a little more fun but also keeps the competition at a high level.
“I think I can bring my team background to Usain’s team. I always give my best for myself and for my team.
And I think we will have a decent team. We certainly don’t plan on losing.”
Jarrion Lawson (USA)
Personal Bests: 100m: 10.04 200m: 20.17 Long jump: 8.58m (+1.8)
Titles: Long jump 4th at Rio Olympics, 4 x NCAA Champion (100m, 200m, long jump, 4x100m relay), World Junior Championships Bronze medallist
Set to challenge Lawson will be a team of rising stars of Australian athletics headlined by Olympians and Olympic finalists including Ryan Gregson, Morgan Mitchell, Genevieve LaCaze, Fabrice Lapierre, Brooke Stratton, Kathryn Mitchell and Michelle Jenneke the team also includes Paralympic gold medallist Scott Reardon and bronze medallist Ella Pardy.
Nitro Athletics Melbourne is supported by the Victorian Government and will be broadcast live on the Channel 7, 7mate and PLUS7 Live app.