Fred Kerley, Asics Part Ways After NYC Grand Prix Starting Blocks And Spikes Fiasco

By Chris Chavez

June 10, 2024

Fred Kerley, the 2022 World champion in the 100m, and his main sponsor Asics have decided to mutually part ways one year into his sponsorship.

Here’s what you need to know:

– Kerley signed with Asics in February 2023 when his contract with Nike expired at the end of 2022. We examined the decision to switch sponsors at the time.

– Kerley is looking to rebound in 2024 after failing to qualify for the World Championship final in 2023. Kerley has a season’s best of 10.11, which makes him the 11th-fastest American man this year. He has also run 20.17 for 200m, which makes him the ninth-fastest American this year in that event.

– Kerley was the headliner of the 100m for the New York City Grand Prix at Icahn Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The day before the race, he told reporters that he still intended to double at the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100m and 200m.

– Despite scratching from the Oslo and Stockholm Diamond League meets earlier this month, Kerley appeared healthy enough to race again before the Trials. When I asked him what coach Quincy Watts (who Kerley teamed up with this past off-season) saw in practice to greenlight his return to competition, Kerley said, “Whatever happens at the coach’s table, stays at the coach’s table.”

– Before the race, Kerley drew attention in the warmup area as he was spotted wearing PUMA spikes. Cameras following Kerley for Netflix’s SPRINT, the Box to Box Films documentary series focused on the world’s top sprinters, surrounded him.

– In Lane 5, Kerley appeared to slip out of the blocks twice. He was not disqualified but after intense discussion with the officials, he elected not to start the race and ran off the track.

– I reached out to Asics for any further information about Kerley’s decision to wear the spikes and whether there was any exemption made. In February 2023, Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs signed with PUMA but was permitted to wear Nike spikes at the 2023 European Indoor Championships that March. Jacobs now races in PUMA spikes.

– Kerley blew past the mixed zone to put on his clothes and went back out to greet fans and take photos with kids who lined the walk-out area before the track.

– He returned to the mixed zone to discuss the decision not to start the race. When I asked, “What happened out there?” He replied, “As a veteran, they was just taking too long. I was asking and requesting for some new blocks. One of my pads was broken. I slipped the first time and then I slipped the second time. It was not about to happen a third time.”

– Kerley later tweeted: “High school block at professional meet”

– When I asked about his decision to switch up spikes, he replied, “I ain’t switch it up. I left my bag at the airport.”

– After Kerley walked through the mixed zone, a spokesperson for Asics issued the following statement: ASICS and Fred Kerley have mutually parted ways and he is no longer an ASICS sponsored athlete. We wish him the best in his career.

– Kerley’s agent also confirmed the decision to part ways.

– At 7 p.m. ET, Kerley shared a video on his Instagram of him training while wearing the PUMA spikes. He captioned it: “What's understood don't need to be explained.”

– After the delay, Nigeria’s Udodi Onwuzurike won the men’s race in 10.24.

– At 8:46 p.m. ET, Kerley tweeted photos of him putting on the spikes and walking out onto the track. He did not caption the images.

What’s Next?

– PUMA and Kerley have not announced any formal partnership. Kerley appears to be a free agent for the first time since the end of 2022.

– Kerley plans to race the 100m and 200m at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. The first round of the men’s 100m is Saturday, June 22nd. The semifinals and final are Sunday, June 23.

Chris Chavez

Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.