Eugene, Ore. – Creswell’s Lonn Robertson spent a good portion of his childhood watching the world’s best track and field athletes perform at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus.
“Since I was 5-years-old,” he said. “Sitting in the east grandstands, and watching the likes of Jim Ryun, Marty Liquori, Frank Shorter, and Steve (Prefontaine), I’ve known my home of Hayward Field and The Track Capital of the World.”
This summer, TrackTown USA will welcome the world to Hayward Field as it plays host to the IAAF World Junior Championships – Oregon 2014.
The six-day meet will be held July 22-27, the first time ever on U.S. soil.
More than 1,700 of the world’s best athletes under the age of 20, representing 178 countries from around the globe, will be showcased at the meet. Many of them will go on to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Like many community members, Robertson wanted to show his support for the event, so he jumped at the chance to join the flag sponsorship program which was developed in conjunction with the IAAF World Junior Championships.
For $500, local business and community members will receive a 3-foot by 5-foot flag representing the country of their choice.
Flag sponsorship also includes two all-session reserved tickets to the IAAF World Junior Championships, two passes to the flag program hospitality suite, a souvenir program for the event and the opportunity to have a company name displayed on the flag program wall in the hospitality area.
Robertson decided to fly the flag of Ghana outside his dental office in Springfield because he became friends with a Ghanaian exchange “brother” in both high school and college.
“So, I feel like I’m related,” Robertson said. “Also, I figure that the athletes from Ghana will do well at the (IAAF World Junior Championships) so it will give us a lot to brag about.”
Similarly, Finnish athletes and coaches will feel right at home thanks to Dave Pompel. The Oregon Track Club official of 40 years was the first to sign up for the program.
“My heritage is Finnish,” Pompel said. “So, we chose to sponsor the Finnish flag. We have been a host family for international students at the University of Oregon since 1996.”
Pompel’s Finnish flag now flies proudly outside of his Eugene home.
So far, the program has been well received with numerous Lane County individuals and businesses displaying flags from around the world at hotels, gyms, theaters, chambers of commerce, medical offices and neighborhood homes.
Some folks even bought two flags due to differing heritages.
Jens and JoAnn Andersen, a retired couple, are displaying the flags of Denmark and the Czech Republic on the front of their Eugene home.
“I’m a proud 100 percent Czech,” said JoAnn Andersen. “My grandparents came directly from the old country. I grew up with them and my parents speaking Czech in our home. I think the World Junior Championships are a great way to welcome people from the entire planet to our wonderful positive little corner of the running community.”
“It’s great to be able to get a first look at some potential future stars,” added Jens Andersen, who said he was a mix of Danish, German, Welch and Scottish heritage. “And, it’s terrific to have it showcased in our town.”
Robertson said flying the flags will be an important visual reminder that the eyes of the world will be on TrackTown USA during the IAAF World Junior Championships, and that’s exactly where they belong.
“The flag program is a wonderful way to spread the word throughout the community,” he said.