The World Track and Field Championships are underway in Daegu, Korea, and American track & field stars are set to once again star in this week-long competition.
On the track, American sprinters want none other than to dethrone the high-powered and record setting Jamaican team, which is led by international superstar and world recorder holder, Usain Bolt. The American male sprinters, led by U.S. champion Water Dix, feel that Bolt is as vulnerable as ever, considering Bolt hasn’t nearly come close to the world record setting pace he established in the 2009 Worlds (9.58 in the 100 meters and 19.19 in the 200 meters).
The American female sprinter contingent includes Carmelita Jeter, who is the favorite in 100 meters and is a strong contender in 200 meters; Sanya Richards-Ross, who is the reigning World Champion at 400 meters; and Lashinda Demus, who will be keen to win gold after finishing runner-up twice in 2005 and 2009.
In the field competitions, Americans are looking to medal in several events, especially the long jump where Americans Funmi Jimoh and Brittney Reese, who is the defending gold medalist, will battle with one another for long jump supremacy.
Many citizens of all nations love to assert their nationalistic pride during international competition, placing extra significance on the glamour events as idealistic marker of its nation-state’s virility and health. Moreover, international competitions usually bring out strong emotions that aren’t always seen in domestic sporting events, sans American college football and international futbol.
The sense of solidarity is in the air this week as Americans head into Labor Day Weekend, hoping that this World Athletics Final can distract them from an impending damage reports from hurricane Irene and a jobless rate that keeps deepening the nation’s collective despair.
Let’s hope that the American athlete aren’t hoping that they win but seizing their opportunity to make a firm statement to the world with their preparedness and integrity, cultivating momentum a year before the London Olympics of 2012.
Check out below some of the intriguing story lines that will add drama and excitement to the 13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics:
Allyson Felix Goes For The Double
California native Allyson Felix, 25, wants to be the first woman in history to medal in both the 200 meters, which she has won an unprecedented four individual medals at the Worlds, and the 400 meters, respectively. Felix, who turned down a University of Southern California scholarship to turn pro (she enrolled and finished at USC, which was paid for by her sponsor Adidas), told the Los Angeles Times that she’s ready for her record-setting challenge:
“It is time for me to step out of my comfort zone”
Her toughest competition will come from Jamaican and two-time Olympic gold-medalist Veronica Campbell Brown, who Felix came in second to in both Athens and China, and Carmelita Jeter — who is peaking at the right time, setting a personal best in the 200 meters in Monaco.
Additionally, Felix will join the American 100 meters and 400 meters relay teams. It’s a heavy order for the seemingly frail (she’s 5’6, 125-pound) sprinter, but if one has ever seen the beautiful, toothy-smile woman run, she’ll undoubtedly handle this endeavor with impeccable grace and power.
Usain Bolt Continues To Keep Track Relevant
Usain Bolt not only has the weight of his country on his broad shoulders, but the prodigious hopes of Track & Field bearing down on his record breaking speed.
Most “experts” feel Bolt is laboring through this summer’s competitions, which is seen as a continuation of his relatively mortal 2010 season, which he lost his last 100 meters race to the American record holder Tyson Gay, who is nursing a nagging hamstring injury and will not compete in this year’s Worlds. Bolt has not broke 9.8 this year, but, in the same token, he has not lost either.
His fellow countryman and leading contender to dethrone Bolt at the Worlds, Asafa Powell, pulled out of competition with a groin injury, leaving American Walter Dix as the most decorated sprinter in the field to challenge Bolt.
On Saturday afternoon in Daegu, Bolt cruised through his heat and is more than likely headed to the final tomorrow night (Sunday morning in the States).
With a sport that is now synonymous with steroids, many sports writers are wondering, very vocally, if Bolt will be able to dominate the decade or if his star will flame out as fast as it shined so bright in 2008 in China. Only time will tell, but observing his recent efforts and the lack of competition, stories of his downfall are premature. Bolt a safe bet to medal in these Worlds.
You can check out continuing TV coverage of the IAAF World Championships on Universal Sports and NBC. Check your local listings.