Americans hope to extend hurdle excellence at World Outdoors


Jill Geer
Director of Communications
USA Track & Field

OSAKA, Japan - Team USA's strengths on the track in World and Olympic competition are well known: sprints and hurdles rule the day. Even through changing generations of athletes, the hurdles remain a steady source of medals for Americans.

2007 should be no different as an experienced group of hurdlers will take the track in Osaka in search of still more accolades.

Sprint hurdle excellence

In women's competition, only the 100-meter dash eclipses the 100 hurdles in gold-medal production at World Outdoors. American women have won the sprint over the sticks five times, with Michelle Perry doing the honors in 2005. She returns with a vengeance in 2007, boasting the fastest time in the world in 2007, with 12.44.

In fact, Americans are the top three hurdlers in the world at present. Two-time USA outdoor champion Ginnie Powell has run 12.45, while Lolo Jones is third with 12.57. Powell has kept a low profile since falling at Paris on July 6, but she looks to be back in form in Japan. 2004 NCAA champion Nichole Denby punched her ticket to Osaka by placing fourth at USA Outdoors.

The men's 110-meter hurdles has been owned by two Americans who have combined for seven world titles - Greg Foster with three titles and Allen Johnson with four. Two-time Olympic silver medalist Terrence Trammell leads a talented corps looking to become the next chapter in the American legacy in the event. While world-record-holder Liu Xiang of China casts a long shadow over the race, Americans by no means consider the Olympic champion unbeatable. In 2007, Trammell is hot on his heels on the world list, with Trammell running 12.95 to Liu's 12.93 at the Reebok Grand Prix June 2 for the world's top two times. He is joined on the American roster by American record holder Dominique Arnold (12.90 AR in 2006) and David Oliver, who has posted a string of top-3 finishes this year.

400m hurdle resurgence

After experiencing a lull in the early part of this decade, the 400-meter hurdles has become a pillar of success.

Bershawn Jackson returns to defend his 2005 world title in the men's 400-meter hurdles, but his stiffest competition will likely come from his teammates. Two-time Olympian James Carter, the 2005 world silver medalist, is the reigning U.S. champion, and in addition to being the most experienced of the American quartet, he has the fastest time in the world this year (47.72). Running out of lane 1, two-time Visa Champion Kerron Clement was fourth at 2005 Worlds by just a whisker and looks to the medal podium for the first time. He heads into Osaka with the #2 time in the world, 47.80. Former junior college national champion Derrick Williams rounds out the roster.

Tiffany Williams hopes to end Team USA's 12-year gold-medal draught in the women's 400 hurdles. Americans placed second and third in 2005, but the gold remains the ultimate goal. Williams is in a strong position entering Osaka. The 2007 Visa Champion ran her world-leading, personal-best time of 53.28 at the 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Just .01 second behind on the world list is teammate Sheena Johnson, the 2004 Olympic Trials champion. 2007 NCAA champion Nicole Leach of UCLA - also Johnson's alma mater - is seventh on the world list this year (54.32).

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