EUGENE, Ore. (NEXSTAR) – The impact of the postponement of the Olympic Games touches every athlete, as well as coaches, fans, and even cities.
That’s the case in Eugene, Oregon, also known as Track Town USA.
When the summer games roll around, the city gears up to host thousands of people for the Track and Field Olympic Trials.
Eugene, Oregon sits in the Pacific Northwest. The city is the birthplace of Nike and home to the prestigious Oregon Track Club.
“We are a track-loving community,” said Mayor Lucy Vinis, who oversees the city of 171,000 people. When the Olympic Track and Field Trials roll around, that number increases by 15,000.
Vinis said, “There’s a bustle, certainly, around Hayward Field when that’s going on, but also a bustle in our downtown as people, you know, are staying in various places around town and going out to eateries and going out in the evening.”
She said the news of the postponement was deflating and disappointing. “It has a big impact, I mean, if we look at the 2016 track trials, we raise about $37 million, so it’s a big revenue impact.”
However, she was also relieved. “I wasn’t sure how we were going to manage that safely and it felt, you know, a little unnerving to think about having that many people come to town.”
Those feelings are echoed by two Olympic hopefuls training in Eugene: Sabrina Southerland and Chanelle Price, who are both professional track runners.
Price said, “Initially I was like, ‘oh my gosh, another year of waiting to race’ because these past few years, I haven’t really been able to for different reasons, so it was pretty disappointing.”
Price and Southerland live together, train together and compete against each other. Their friendship transcends competition.
That supportive energy is only matched by locals and fans.
Southerland said, “We’re in a place where everyone loves running, so eager and they’re dying to have running back and competition.”
However, it’s not always easy for them to be positive about this year and the challenges that have come with it.
“The last few months have been tough mentally, mostly,” said Price. “We train to race, you know, that’s what we’re wired to do.”
The runners have shifted their mindsets, using the additional time to train harder and think about the big race on the track.
“I think it would be really cool, especially being at Hayward Field,” said Southerland. “It will be the new track, I don’t know, I think it will be magical.”
Price said, “The fans at Hayward, they understand. They get it, they’re engaged, there’s really no place in the world like it.”
The Track and Field Trials are set for June 18-27, 20201. They will take place at the brand new Hayward Field at the University of Oregon.