Track stars head indoors in New York

DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 05: Noah Lyles of the United States celebrates as he crosses the line to win gold in the Men's 4x100 Metres Relay final during day nine of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 05: Noah Lyles of the United States celebrates as he crosses the line to win gold in the Men's 4x100 Metres Relay final during day nine of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 05, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The 26th U.S. Indoor Grand Prix will take place on Saturday 12 February and showcases top American hopefuls for Tokyo 2020 such as Noah Lyles, Rai Benjamin and Rio 2016 gold medallist Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

The 26th installment of the U.S. Indoor Grand Prix will be contested on Saturday 12 February in New York. The event will highlight many top track and field athletes in competitive action for the first time this year, including Donavan Brazier, reigning 400m Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Rai Benjamin - the 2019 World Championship silver medallist in the 400m hurdles, and 60m sprint specialist Trayvon Bromell.

The event, which will be the only gold-level U.S. stop on this year’s World Athletics Indoor Tour, has produced nine world records and 13 American records through the years.

In keeping with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, a few changes were needed to ensure the event could go on safely. For the first time, the U.S. Indoor Grand Prix will take place in New York City, on the borough of Staten Island.

DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 01: Donavan Brazier of the United States celebrates winning the Men's 800 Metres final during day five of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 01, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)
DOHA, QATAR - OCTOBER 01: Donavan Brazier of the United States celebrates winning the Men's 800 Metres final during day five of 17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 at Khalifa International Stadium on October 01, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images for IAAF)
2019 Getty Images

The Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex was chosen as an alternate to the traditional venue, Boston’s Reggie Lewis Center, which is currently being used as a COVID-19 mass vaccination site for Eastern Massachusetts. No fans will be allowed in the Ocean Breeze complex, which has hosted 18 major championships in its own right, including six major national competitions since it opened in 2015.

“I’m just looking to go out and do my best,” said Donavan Brazier, the 2019 world champion in the 800m who broke a world record last time he raced at this Ocean Breeze Complex. “It’s a fast track and beautiful facility,” added Brazier, 23, who has never lost a race in his previous trips to the U.S. Indoor Grand Prix. “I like racing here more than most tracks indoor. I’m excited to be racing on it again.”

Brazier is recently out of quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure. He avoided infection and is now looking to get 2021 started with his focus set firmly on the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. “I’m like any other athlete - we can only do what’s in our control,” said Brazier, who is aiming to qualify for his first Olympic Games. “Our plan is going ahead with the Olympics as our target.”

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - AUGUST 31:  Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas wins the Women's 200m race during the IAAF Diamond League AG Memorial Van Damme at King Baudouin Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - AUGUST 31: Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas wins the Women's 200m race during the IAAF Diamond League AG Memorial Van Damme at King Baudouin Stadium on August 31, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
2018 Getty Images

Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the reigning female 400m Olympic champion from Rio 2016, is looking forward to the opportunity on Staten Island as well, and a new challenge too. “I’m looking for a new title,” said Miller-Uibo, who's aiming to add the 200m to her repertoire this year. “We’re aware this is a warm-up for the Olympic trials. Any time we get a chance to compete it’s a great feeling and our goal is to give it a good try and put in a great performance.”

Noah Lyles, last year’s world champion in the 200m, is also excited about getting back on the track in an Olympic year. “This will simulate how the Olympic trials will be,” said the fourth-fastest man in history over 200m and the current world number one. “We have been working really hard on my acceleration. We want to see if it’s working. I want to try and run a fast 200 this year and I’m trying my best to make sure I make it to this Olympic Games.”

The all-important U.S. Olympic team trials will take place between 18 and 27 June in Eugene, Oregon at the Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

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