UO connects students, faculty with World Juniors

Flag display at Hayward Field

This summer, the world is coming to the University of Oregon.

From July 22-27, the IAAF World Junior Championships Oregon 2014 will be staged at Hayward Field, the first time ever on U.S. soil. The six-day meet showcases the world’s best track and field athletes under the age of 20.

These are the Olympians of tomorrow.

More than 1,700 athletes from 178 different countries will arrive in our community and be housed in an “athletes’ village” at selected UO residence halls. They will be accompanied by another 700 team officials and coaches.

It will be the largest IAAF event ever held in America, capping a season which includes the Prefontaine Classic (May 30-31), NCAA Championships (June 11-14) and USA Junior National Championships (July 5-6).

“This is a very exciting opportunity for us,” said Vin Lananna, UO associate athletic director and president of TrackTown USA, the local organizing committee for the IAAF World Junior Championships.

“There are so many cool things going on this year that we’re dubbing it, perhaps, the best track and field season ever at Hayward Field, and that’s a big thing to say about this facility.”

The UO is working hard to make this event a unique and memorable experience through several academic connections. Here’s a link to a video outlining those goals: http://globalexpo.uoregon.edu/about/.

Last fall, the UO instituted a student-ambassador program, in which more than 140 students with specific language and cultural competency skills will be utilized to assist visiting athletes and officials. The plan calls for a UO student-ambassador to be embedded with each national federation that attends the meet.

On July 18-21, the weekend prior to the IAAF World Junior Championships, the UO will sponsor an International Sports Science Symposium on Performance Enhancement and Technology. The symposium will bring together experts from the international sports science community to present cutting edge research and conduct panel discussions on the application of science in today’s competitive sports environment. At least one session will be open to the public.

IAAF protocol requires that host countries of its championship events display the flags of all participating member federations. Due to the distinctive configuration of Hayward Field, UO students in the architecture and product design programs were tasked with finding new and innovative ways to fulfill that requirement. The ensuing “flag grove” was recently installed on the south end of the track.

The UO Global Studies Institute will install digital interactive world maps on large, touch-screen displays throughout the event venues. Click on a country and information pops up relevant to that region, plus specific UO expertise, research, faculty and students from that area. The maps will be repurposed after the competition for UO marketing, development and public outreach.

Lananna said all of these programs, plus the efforts of hundreds of local volunteers and officials, will enhance the overall experience of the worldwide visitors during their stay in Eugene.

“The World Juniors takes what we do and puts it on a global stage,” Lananna said. “Kids from all over the world get to experience what Hayward Field is all about. What a great message we’re sending to the youth from 180 countries.”