Team USA's women chase distance medals at World Champs
USA Track & Field
BERLIN - Maggie Vessey, Christin Wurth-Thomas, Shalane Flanagan, Kara Goucher and Jenny Barringer will lead a crew of American female distance runners at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, August 15-23 in Berlin, Germany.
USA Outdoor fourth-place finisher Maggie Vessey is the new kid on the block to watch, having steadily improved her career best from 2:02.01 in 2008 to 1:57.84 in Monaco on July 28, in what was her fourth attempt at chasing the World championships 'A' qualifier. It is the second-fastest time in the world so far this year and ties Vessey for the number seven spot on the all time U.S. list with Joetta Clark. Three-time Olympian and five-time USA Outdoor champion Hazel Clark and two-time NCAA Outdoor champion Geena Gall also will be in the mix.
The women's 1,500m will see the strongest contingent of American women in some time. They will be led by two-time USA Outdoor champion Shannon Rowbury who finished seventh at the 2008 Olympic Games, the highest placing ever by an American woman.
Joining Rowbury will be Christin Wurth-Thomas, who recently made a name for herself in finishing as the runner-up at the IAAF Golden Gala women's 1,500m in 3:59.98, becoming only the fourth American ever to run sub 4:00. After finishing tenth in the steeplechase last summer at the Olympics, former American record-holder Anna Willard has decided to make a change and step down in distance to the 1,500m. Willard set a personal best of 4:01.44 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic and finished third at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships at the end of June.
Three-time NCAA Outdoor 5,000m champion Jen Rhines will be running in her fourth World Championships, after finishing as the runner-up in the women's 5,000m in Eugene. The seventh-place finisher at this event as the 2007 World Outdoor Championships in Osaka, Japan, Rhines will be joined on the track by USA Outdoors fourth-place finisher Julie Culley, who placed seventh at the 2008 Olympic Trials.
2008 Olympians Amy Yoder Begley and Shalane Flanagan charged into Berlin in anticipation of what's to come in the 10,000m final at the 2009 World Championships. In the 10,000m final at the U.S. Championships this past June, Yoder Begley and 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist Flanagan traded the lead twice in the final lap, with Yoder Begley emerging as the victor in 31 minutes, 22.69 seconds, which is the #9 U.S. women's 10,000m time in history. Flanagan was the runner-up in 31:23.43. Joining them will be 2005 U.S. champion Katie McGregor, who took third in Eugene.
American record holder Jenny Barringer is undefeated in her specialty, the 3,000m steeplechase, so far this season, having won the USA Outdoor crown and the 1,500m and steeplechase at this year's NCAA Championships. She has set personal bests in every flat distance race she has run, including a 3:59.90 in the 1,500m at the Nike Prefontaine Classic.
Barringer will be joined by Penn State standout Bridget Franek, who place third at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships, and 2008 Olympian Lindsey Anderson, who also ran for Team USA at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships.
2007 World Outdoor 10,000m bronze medalist Kara Goucher leads the American marathon team in Berlin. Having finished third in both the New York City and Boston Marathons, Goucher turned in a 1:08:05 in the women's half marathon in Chicago just a few weeks ago and looks to be on target to collect the first U.S. medal in the marathon since 1983. Rounding out the five-person team will be Desirae Davila, Paige Higgins, Zoila Gomez and Tera Moody.
20,000m Race Walk
2008 Olympic Trials runner-up and 2004 Olympian Teresa Vaill won her fourth career U.S. women's 20 km race walk crown at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships in Eugene. Vaill is the only American entrant in the event. Vaill finished 22nd in the women's 10 km walk at both the 1993 and 1995 World Championships.
This will be the first time Team USA has returned to Berlin for a major international championship competition since the 1936 Olympic Games, where National Track & Field Hall of Famer Jesse Owens won gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump.
NBC, Versus to broadcast meet
The 2009 World Championships will be broadcast in the United States daily on NBC and Versus. The broadcast schedule is as follows. All times Eastern; subject to change; check local listings.
August 15: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. NBC
August 16: 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. NBC
August 17: 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. Versus
August 18: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Versus
August 19: 1:30 - 4:00 p.m. Versus
August 20: 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Versus
August 21: 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Versus
August 22: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. NBC
August 23: 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. NBC
For more information on Team USA at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, visit: www.usatf.org.