Reigning world 100 and 200 meter champion Tyson Gay leads a star studded American squad into the world championships with hope of redemption after struggling at the Beijing Olympics.
With Beijing producing the worst US men’s athletics showing in Olympic history and star turns by Jamaican sprinters, the Americans have a chance to show how much ground they have made up and how much more is left to cover.
Gay’s anticipated showdown with Olympic star Usain Bolt, who set world records to win 100 and 200 gold, will be the main attraction. Gay figures a run at the Jamaican’s world record of 9.69 seconds is within reach.
“You have got to run 9.59 to beat him. That’s how I look at it,” Gay said. “I have the mechanics. I have the coaching. It’s all there.”
Gay ran the fastest 100 in the world this year, 9.77 seconds, in Rome on July 10 and tops the 200 world list with a 19.58, the third_fastest in history, at New York in May.
After winning in London in a wind_aided 9.79 two weeks ago, Gay said, “This race proved that I’m in form and was important in terms of the world championship.”
Allyson Felix, Jeremy Wariner, Kerron Clement, Michelle Perry, Reese Hoffa, Brad Walker and Bernard Lagat will all defend world titles from two years ago at Osaka, where the US lineup matched a meet record with 14 titles.
The meet comes six months after USA Track and Field unveiled a revamp plan aimed at producing 30 US athletics medals at the 2012 London Olympics and critical of the way past squads were assembled and supported for big meets.
American athletes will wear the initials “JO” on their uniforms in honor of iconic hero Jesse Owens, who defied on-looking Adolf Hitler in the same stadium by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
“These World Championships are special,” said USA Track chief executive Doug Logan. “It’s Team USA’s chance to come back strong in the post-Olympic year and it’s an opportunity to honor the incredible legacy of Jesse Owens.
“Our team roster will represent the United States well on both counts.”
Reigning Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt and Sanya Richards each have the world’s best 400m times this year, 44.50 for Merritt and 49.23 for Richards.
Other world leaders in 2009 include long jumpers Dwight Phillips, a two_time world champion, and Brittney Reese; 400 hurdler Lashindsa Demus, men’s high jumper Andra Manson and Olympic women’s discus winner Stephanie Brown Trafton.
Felix won the biggest 200m finals blowout in world meet history in addition to helping the US women’s 4×100 and 4×400 relays win gold while Lagat won an unprecedented 1,500_5,000 world double in 2007.
Clement, the Olympic 400 hurdles runner_up at Beijing, and Perry, seeking her third consecutive world 100 hurdles crown, also defend their crowns on the track while pole vaulter Brad Walker and 2006 world indoor shot put champion Reese Hoffa attempt the same in field events.