Emotions will be high for Richard Potts at Hawke's Bay's major athletics event on January 17.

What was the Sylvia Potts Classic for 15 years has been renamed the Allan and Sylvia Potts Classic, following the passing of Hastings athletics talisman Allan in May. The baton for running the event has passed from Allan to son Richard.

"I've helped Dad out along with a very good group of club volunteers for the last seven to eight years and I'm sure his presence will be missed by many," Mr Potts said.

The event, now held at Hawke's Bay Regional Sports Park, has always focused on the Sylvia Potts women's 800m race, and this year, the men's 800m has been named in Allan's memory.

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There are cash prizes if the personal best times of Sylvia or Hamish Christensen (coached by Allan) are beaten.

New Zealand Commonwealth Games 800m runner and defending champion Angie Smit is aiming for her sixth win, while three top Australian athletes are also expected to compete.

"Their participation, plus that of top New Zealand athletes from around the country, including a busload of Auckland athletes and gold medal winners from this month's secondary schools nationals, will make this the best meet hosted in the Hawke's Bay for years."

Thanks to Sir Graham Avery and Sileni Estate, Mr Potts, a former Commonwealth Games athlete, said he hoped to lure three Australians to the event.

"We're grateful to the likes of Sir Graham Avery and other sponsors and volunteers for their support of the event.

"It's a two-hour action-packed event, including a 4x100m sporting codes relay."

Proceeds from the event will go to the Potts Trust, HB Cancer Society and Cranford Hospice.

A ribbon event will be held earlier in the day for athletes aged 3-14 years of age, while the main event starts at 5.30pm. Entry is by gold coin donation.