For those who believe in the promise of youth, the NYRR Millrose Games on Feb. 15 has a race that will feed them.
It's the women's 800-meter run and it will feature two of the fastest teenagers on the planet as local product Ajee' Wilson will square off with Iceland's Anita Hinriksdottir. This showdown will also feature 22-year-old Jamaican Natoya Goule.
"Here at The Armory, we've been following Mary [Cain, in the NYRR Wanamaker Mile] and Ajee' for years," said Dr. Norbert Sander, the Executive Director of the Armory Foundation. "They have long been superb, but their meteoric rise this year caught everyone by surprise. This race could have three or four of the finalists of the 800 at the Rio Olympics in 2016."
Wilson — who broke her own World Junior Record in the 600m run at the Millrose Games last February — took sixth in the 800m final at the World Championships in Moscow last summer, finishing in 1:58.21, an American Junior Record. For those following the Neptune, N.J., native, that performance was not a huge surprise after she had claimed global gold at the World Youth Championships in 2011 and the World Juniors in 2012. Wilson opted to turn pro instead of running collegiately, but the 19-year-old is enrolled at Temple University in Philadelphia.
"With the fresh new track laid down and amount of talent in the field, I'm excited to race at Millrose," said Wilson. "The Armory is definitely one of my favorite places to race too, so it should be fun!"
Hinriksdottir became Iceland's first track & field world champion at the World Youth Games in Donetsk, Ukraine, this summer, taking the 800m run in 2:01.13, more than a half-second off her all-time best (a national record 2:00.49). Hinriksdottir, who will turn 18 a month before the NYRR Millrose Games, runs in a style that Athletics Weekly calls "swashbuckling," a forward lean with arms wide. She ran faster than 2:01.2 in four straight finals over the summer.
Goule — the aging veteran in the race — won both the NCAA indoor and outdoor 800m championships for LSU last season as a junior. The Clarendon, Jamaica, native broke two minutes at the Jamaica Senior Championships to qualify for the World Championships in Moscow, where she ran one of the fastest non-advancing times in the opening heats. The only runner — male or female — to represent the Green & Gold in the Worlds' 800s in Moscow, Goule has transferred to Clemson University.
Fans are urged to visit NYRRMillroseGames.org to purchase tickets. The 2014 NYRR Millrose Games will begin at noon and conclude at 6:30 pm, featuring the prime time window from 3 pm to 5 pm. Further questions can be answered by calling The Armory at (212) 923-1803 ext. 7200.
Since its inception in 1908 at a local armory, the NYRR Millrose Games is one of track and field’s most prestigious annual events. A New York City sports staple, the meet moved to New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory in Washington Heights in 2012 after having called the Madison Square Garden home from 1914 to 2011.
The Games — established by employees of Wanamaker's Department Store — annually feature track & field’s most prolific male and female stars as well as collegiate and high school competitors. More than 200 athletes share the distinction of being both Millrose and Olympic Champions.
In November, the New York Road Runners became the title sponsor of the NYRR Millrose Games, which is hosted by the Armory Foundation.