ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Reigning World Indoor gold medalist Bernard Lagat, 2011 World Outdoor champions Christian Taylor and Jesse Williams and world heptathlon record holder Ashton Eaton lead a deep Team USA men’s field into the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Track & Field Championships. Competition begins Friday and runs through Sunday from the Atakoy Athletic Arena.
Lagat has been vocal all season on his goals to defend his World Indoor title in the 3,000-meters and will be in search of his third World Indoor title in the event after also winning the gold in 2004. Lagat is coming off a win in the event at the USA Indoor Championships along with establishing an American record in the 5,000m earlier in the year at the Millrose Games. He will face strong competition from Great Britain’s Mo Farah as well as 2012 USA Indoor runner-up Lopez Lomong.
Taylor burst onto the international scene with his World Outdoor Championships gold medal in the triple jump and will be given his first chance for another medal on the international scene since Daegu. Taylor teams with Will Claye to give Team USA a good chance at a pair of triple jump medals. Claye won the USA Indoor title in the event and owns the top two jumps in the world this year. Claye will also compete in the long jump where he owns the second best mark in the world this indoor season.
After winning a World Championships gold medal, a Diamond League title and USA Track & Field’s Jesse Owens award in 2011, Williams hopes for more big things in 2012. The two-time USA Indoor and Outdoor champion owns a season best of 2.32m/7-7.25, which currently puts him sixth best in the world.
No one in the history of track and field has performed better in the heptathlon than Eaton. He set the world record mark of 6,568 points in 2010. Eaton also won a silver medal in the decathlon at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships. This is Eaton’s first full heptathlon this indoor season.
Trell Kimmons and Justin Gatlin battled to a close finish at the USA Indoor Championships. Kimmons’ winning time of 6.45 and Gatlin’s runner-up time of 6.47 are currently the two fastest times in the world this year and give Team USA an excellent shot at a pair of World Indoor medals.
There has long been an American presence in the shot put at the international level, and the 2012 World Indoor Championships will be no different. 2006 World Indoor gold medalist Reese Hoffa and 2011 USA Indoor runner-up Ryan Whiting currently own the top two spots in the world in 2012. Hoffa has also won two World Indoor silver medals in his career.
Brad Walker understands how to perform on the world stage. The American outdoor pole vault record holder and 2006 World Indoor gold medalist will be in search of his fifth World Championships medal. His season best of 5.86m/19-2.75 currently sits fifth in the world as Walker will be joined by Scott Roth, who placed second at the 2012 USA Indoor championships.
Aries Merritt and Kevin Craddock battled through a loaded field at the USA Indoor Championships to represent Team USA at the World Indoor Championships in the 60m hurdles. Merrit, who claimed the U.S. indoor title, owns the third fastest time in the world this year and Craddock, the runner-up, currently sits fourth.
Matthew Centrowitz and Galen Rupp lead the middle-distance fields in the 1,500m while Michael Rutt and Tevan Everett will represent Team USA in the 800m. Centrowitz placed second at the USA Indoor Championships in the event along with winning a bronze medal at the 2011 World Outdoor Championships. The American outdoor 10,000m record holder, Rupp was recently crowned as the men’s indoor Visa Championships series winner. Rutt placed second at the 2012 USA Indoor Championships.
Gil Roberts and Calvin Smith will lead a group of sprinters in the 400m and the 4x400m relay. Roberts and Smith finished first and second, respectively, at the USA Indoor Championships and currently have the second and sixth fastest times in the world. They will be joined by Frankie Wright, Manteo Mitchell, Quentin Iglehart-Summers and Jamaal Torrance in assembling teams for both the preliminary round and the final of the 4x400m.
For continuing updates on the World Indoor Championships, see www.usatf.org.