Some athletic firms fight over signing the biggest names in high school sports. Add Asics to the list.
The California-based running brand inked a 10-year deal with Candace Hill, a 16-year-old sprinter widely considered once of the fastest girls in the world.
Hill, who becomes the youngest American sprinter to turn professional, will make her debut as an Asics athlete next month in Birmingham, Ala.
Hill ran the 100-meter sprint in 10.98 seconds in June, a pace that, according to the company, would have put her in seventh place at the London 2012 Olympic Games and a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing games.
“Candace is a once-in-a-lifetime talent with incredible potential — and a remarkable young woman,” said Gene McCarthy, president and CEO of Asics America, in a statement. “We’re so proud she has chosen to partner with Asics as she embarks on her racing career and know there are big things ahead for her.
“Though she is exceptionally dedicated to her training, Candace will quickly tell you that academics come first and she’s thinking just as much about attending college as she is about the potential of competing in Rio,” McCarthy continued. “Asics will support her academic and athletic goals equally throughout our partnership, and after spending time with Candace and her family, it’s easy to see that her future off the track will be just as impressive and exciting as her future on the track.”
Hill will join other elite athletes signed to the company, including Ryan Hall, Deena Kastor and Kerri Walsh Jennings.
For McCarthy, who took the reins at Asics in October, it is part of larger plan to broaden the brand’s appeal.
“We need to raise our profile,” he told Footwear News in an exclusive interview last month. “There have been a lot of things Asics has accomplished that have been firsts for the industry, and we need to champion them. [We need] a consistent global message.”