ISTANBUL, TURKEY -- For the fifth consecutive time the World Indoor gold medal in the men’s shot put will return to the United States. Ryan Whiting recorded his first personal best in two seasons to win the gold medal Friday during the 14th edition of the IAAF World Indoor Championships at the Atakoy Athletics Arena. Americans Ashton Eaton, Bernard Lagat, Chaunte Lowe and Sanya Richards-Ross each made important steps toward the weekend’s finals.
Whiting launched himself into the lead for good on his fifth attempt with a toss of 22.00m/72-2.25. In his first trip to the World Indoor Championships, Whiting follows Christian Cantwell (2004, 2008, 2010) and Reese Hoffa (2006) as the fifth consecutive Team USA World Indoor champion in the event. Hoffa ended up placing fourth with a throw of 21.55m/70-8.5.
Meanwhile, world heptathlon record holder Eaton used big performances in both the 60m dash and the long jump to grab the first day lead in that event and put himself in position to extend his world mark. Eaton’s personal best in the long jump of 8.16m/26-9.25 gave him 1,102 points en route to his first day total of 3,654. Oleksiy Kazyanov of the Ukraine is currently in second at 3,489.
Lagat battled a physical third heat, which included Great Britain’s Mo Farah, to advance to Sunday’s final in the men’s 3,000m in a time of 7:57.68. It was the first step as he begins his defense of his 2010 World Indoor title in the event.
Lowe was one of six high jumpers to clear 1.95m/6-4.75 and advance to Saturday’s final and Richards-Ross battled through a pair of preliminary rounds to record the fastest time of the day in the women’s 400m of 50.99 and into Saturday’s final. Richards-Ross will make an attempt at the American indoor record, held by Francena McCorory’s of 50.54 set in 2010.
The American duo of Trell Kimmons and Justin Gatlin each cruised in their respective heats of the men’s 60m to advance to Saturday’s semi-final. Kimmons, the current world leader, ran a time of 6.70 to win the sixth heat while Gatlin ran a time of 6.64 to win the seventh heat.
Current world-leader Kristi Castlin failed to advance in the women’s 60m hurdles after stopping shortly into her heat thinking there had been a false start. Meanwhile Vanneisha Ivy placed fourth in the final heat in a time of 8.28 but did not advance to the final.
Will Claye advanced to the finals of the men’s long jump with a mark of 7.91m/25-11.5 while Lopez Lomong will join Lagat in the finals of the 3,000m after he advanced on time at 7:50.36.
Matthew Centrowitz took advantage of running from the second heat to advance into Saturday’s final in the men’s 1,500m. The 2011 World Outdoor Championships bronze medalist, Centrowitz placed fourth in his heat in a time of 3:39.54. Galen Rupp, running from the first heat, was not able to advance despite a new personal best time of 3:43.39.
Both Jackie Areson and Sara Hall advanced to Sunday’s final in the women’s 3000m. Areson did so by placing fourth in the opening heat in a season best time of 9:12.62 and Hall placed sixth in the second heat to advance by time in 9:02.49.
Team USA 800m runners Tevan Everett and Michael Rutt both advanced into Saturday’s semi-final rounds for the men while Erica Moore did the same in the women’s 800m. Everett placed second in the sixth heat in a time of 1:49.72 and Rutt placed third in the opening heat in 1:49.72. Moore positioned herself well to place second in the final heat in 2:00.24. Phoebe Wright ran a time of 2:03.11 in the opening heat, but did not advance.
Men’s 400m runners Gil Roberts and Calvin Smith advanced past the first round, but were unable to make it into Saturday’s final. Sara Vaughn and Brenda Martinez each battled physical heats in the women’s 1,500m, but were also unable to advance.
Amanda Smock missed qualifying for the final in the women’s triple jump. Competing in group A she recorded her best jump of the competition on her third attempt of 13.25m/43-5.75.
The World Indoor Championships continue through Sunday. For continuing updates check www.usatf.org.
Athlete quotes - Day one
Ryan Whiting - men’s shot put
“I haven’t had a PR (personal record) in two years so I will take it. At World Outdoors last year we kind of stumbled so this starts us off on the right foot. This is definitely a milestone for me (22.00m) and hopefully the next time it will come a little easier. I was building from my first throw and I felt it was only a matter of time before I hit one. I had made the last World Indoor team, but passed because I was still in college. I knew I had it in me. It felt great. Now I am just focused on trying to stay healthy.”
Reese Hoffa - men’s shot put
“I am happy with myself. The diamond messes with me a little, but I still ended up throwing over 21-meters. It sucks that I lost, but I am comfortable with it. If there ever was such a thing as a moral victory I guess this is it. Ryan (Whiting) is tough. This if the fifth consecutive time we have won a World Indoor title. It’s good to know when we retire he is going to keep throwing well. I think we are the toughest shot put country in the world.”
Trell Kimmons - men’s 60m
“It feels good to come here for the first time. I just hope to keep running well and get a medal out of it.”
Justin Gatlin - men’s 60m
“I felt really good. My coach told me to concentrate on my first 10 meters. Now I want to come back and rip it up in the semi-finals. Right now we don’t need to worry about the Olympics or anything; it’s about the World Indoor Championships. Out of all the teams that I have been on myself and Trell (Kimmons) have the best camaraderie. It reminds me a lot of when I was with Shawn Crawford. The USA has not been on the podium in awhile and we want to change that.”
Chaunte Lowe - women’s high jump
“To win I think it is going to take a jump well over two-meters. That’s not necessarily impossible because the track is so great and because there are so many good girls here. I just want to come out and have fun and I want to do well. I want to bring the intensity, but have fun at the same time.”
Sanya Richards-Ross - women’s 400m
“I feel really good. It was tough running two rounds in one day. I have never done that before. But I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully the chances are very good we will see an American record. That is my goal for this year. I’m excited for this. Rarely do we have a chance for two medals.”
Natasha Hastings - women’s 400m
“I got into a little bit of trouble early. I just wanted to get into the final. I did have to run in lane two for a little bit, but you have to adjust. I feel great. It would be sweet to get two medals.”
Erica Moore - women’s 800m
“Positioning was my biggest goal. I knew that was going to be key. There are phenomenal runners here. I knew I had to hang in there and stay focused.”
Phoebe Wright - women’s 800m
“It was pretty much what I expected. It’s a whole new level running here. It’s a little different when girls are running right up next to you. You don’t get that at home.”
Bernard Lagat - men’s 3,000m
“There was a lot of pushing. It was an ugly race. I kept getting kicked. It was one of the roughest races I have run. I just wanted to get qualified. I have run a lot of these races and you have to adjust. There was a lot of pushing, but that’s expected.”
Lopez Lomong - men’s 3,000m
“It felt good. There was a lot of pushing and I put myself in a decent spot to advance. I think it’s all good. I put myself into a chase ‘em and get ‘em situation. It didn’t work out how I wanted. This is my second 3k and it is a little different technically.”
Matthew Centrowitz - men’s 1,500m
“We were fortunate to be in the second heat so we could see what we needed to do. I felt all right, but not as good as those guys did that ran 3:38.”
Galen Rupp - men’s 1,500m
“I didn’t feel real great, but I put myself in a good position to move on. I was just a little bit on the outside.
On running a personal indoor best: “That really doesn’t make me feel better. That was from a long time ago.”
Sara Vaughn - women’s 1,500m
“It was physical and I got bumped a few times, but I should have expected that. It wasn’t that fast so I am pretty disappointed. It’s a learning experience. The track felt fine. It was fun.”
Brenda Martinez - women’s 1,500m
“I tried to stay in front and tried to hold on as long as I could. They picked it up and I tried to start pressing. It felt really hard. I just tried to press. I raced some of these girls before and you have to have confidence. You have to be able to respond in every race.”