STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Stockholm’s Diamond League tournament director Rajne Soderberg is determined to bring track and field to the people, one event at a time.
Three years ago, Soderberg had the idea of bringing the shot put competition to the heart of the city and if he has his way, the pole vaulters will be next.
With the temporary stands at Kungstradgarden, a large park in central Stockholm, packed to capacity on Thursday and competitors queuing up to join in, his idea has struck a chord with fans and athletes alike.
“I had the idea a couple of years ago to try to bring some of the athletics events to the people. Some of the athletics events in the stadium, they disappear among all the running events and so on,” Soderberg told Reuters after the curtain-raiser for Friday’s Diamond League event at the Olympic stadium in the Swedish capital.
“Shot put is one of them, they never have the focus that they deserve, so my idea was to bring the field events to the public instead.”
American world champion Christian Cantwell, whose winning throw of 22.09 set a meeting record and gave him his fifth Diamond League victory this season, was impressed by the atmosphere created by the crowd and the thundering rock music that blared from the speakers.
“Once you got going and you could feel the music playing and everything, it was pretty cool,” he told Reuters.
“I hope that somebody came out that knew nothing about the sport today and liked what they saw, it got them excited and given them a reason to come back the next year.
“It took until the second-to-last throw to see a big throw, but then it came. So if you stuck around the whole time you got a pretty good jolt. That’s pretty cool.”
Soderberg’s idea is now being copied around the world, and Zurich is due to stage its own “Big Shot” competition later in the year.
(Editing by Justin Palmer; To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)
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