The Arcadis Great CityGames Manchester is back for 2017, in a brand new location – and Greg Rutherford cannot wait for its return.
The live, city-centre athletics event has become a headline date in the city's packed sporting calendar and since its inception in 2009 has brought some of the biggest names in international sport to the city including Olympic heroes Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Rutherford.
The Arcadis Great CityGames Manchester will take place on the evening of Friday 26 May on the purpose built sprint track on Deansgate and in a pop-up athletics arena in Albert Square in the heart of the city.
Rutherford, an Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European champion, smashed the Great CityGames Manchester record last year with a jump of 8.20m in the field events, which take place in Albert Square.
And Greg thinks that athletics in a city centre environment is the best way to showcase the sport.
Rutherford said: “I've been a huge believer that street athletics is the future of athletics. Street athletics is something that is completely different and showcases the events in the most wonderful way.
“You could be at the pub or out shopping and they will come over and watch, it's a bit of a party atmosphere, as athletes we love it, we look forward to it every year.
“I literally fly home early from my training camps in America to be ready for this event. It is hugely important and something that hopefully will be going on for many years.
“This is the future of the sport; we should have this in more cities around the world. Get people excited about athletics again, because we love doing it.
“I'd happily do these and no other events if I could just jump in street athletics because they are that much fun.”
Greg turned honorary starter for the Great Manchester Run in 2015, and plans to take part himself once he has retired from track and field.
The 30-year-old Manchester United fan added: “The run side of it and the street athletics go hand in hand - without both it doesn't quite work.
“Manchester at the time is buzzing, the entire weekend, it is incredible to be around because you have a lot of people around to do the run, getting excited about it, people coming out to watch it.
“It's a city that has a proud sporting history with huge football clubs and cricket; we used to compete here for our national championships in athletics. It has been brilliant to be involved with.
“You can do it in other cities but it won't be as good as it is in Manchester. People here get sport, they love sport and they love coming out to support, which is hugely important.”
The sprint track, a 250m length of specially constructed running surface, will be moved for 2017, at a new location further down Deansgate, alongside the Great Northern Warehouse.
It is also the first year of a new sponsorship deal for UK superbrand Arcadis, who hold title rights for the event.
Jonathan Moore of Arcadis commented: “Our business is at the forefront of making Britain's cities better places for their people and businesses. So, by partnering with the Great CityGames Manchester we're taking this a step further.
“The games are quickly becoming a jewel in Manchester's sporting crown and we are extremely proud of the role we are playing in bringing people together in the heart of the city.“
The Arcadis Great CityGames Manchester is completely free to spectate, taking athletics out of the stadium and on to the streets it will give thousands of spectators the opportunity to experience the sport from a unique perspective, while showcasing the best of Manchester on a live 90-minute programme on BBC Two and BBC Two HD.