A slew of new faces are in Moscow for this year's World championships. Some people might call this group “New Kids on the [Former Eastern] Bloc.”
One example of the changing of the guard is Arman Hall, a rising Florida Gator sophomore who is a rookie to Team USA. But he's not a rookie to the sport. He's been winning medals since his days as a youth and junior phenom: World Youth silver, World Junior champion in the 400m. Off the track, he’s mild-mannered. On the track, his teammates say he’s a beast.
Tuesday, visitors and locals in the lobby of the team hotel were treated to an impromptu concert when Team USA relay pool member James Harris sat at the grand piano and demonstrated his off-the-track talent, much to the pleasure of everyone within earshot. There's something endearing about seeing a young man from Alabama boldly sit at a piano and play.
The women of this team are astounding as well. Between 17-year-old Mary Cain rewriting middle-distance, high-school record books and the collegiate and post-collegiate phenoms on this team, Team USA is loaded for the future.
It’s no secret that Team USA has set the standard on the track, and this year’s group is no exception. Amanda Bingson (the American record holder in the hammer who just took up the sport a couple of years ago) made the 2012 Olympic squad and is here donning some patriotic polish on her nails. And so are many members of the women’s team. Gail Devers certainly left her legacy with her red, white and blue nails.
At breakfast, athletes are happy about the omelets made-to-order, bacon and other identifiable produce and waffles. The coffee is spectacular. Conversation centers around a text home to a parent or what the day’s practice will entail. For some of the younger generation, it’s a chance to talk to the self-proclaimed “old heads” about what to expect at their first World Championships. For some, it’s still bragging rights for a game of dominoes or laughing over a shared ice bath.
It is out of the ice baths and onto the track when competition begins at Luzhniki Stadium on Saturday.