Team USA features a loaded track & field squad in the Polish city of Sopot as it readies for the 14th IAAF World Indoor Championships. There are several Olympic and world champions entered in the elite event, which begins March 7 and runs through March 9.
Two years ago in Istanbul, Team USA dominated the indoor worlds with 10 gold medals. Three of its gold medalists from Istanbul are back this year to defend their titles.
Here’s a look at some of the top American men and women who will be competing in Poland this weekend with hopes of bringing home titles.
The 39-year-old is seeking a fourth gold medal in the 3,000-meter event but he will not have an easy run to the finish as the field is loaded with tough competition. Among the top contenders are Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet and Dejen Gebremeskel, and American Galen Rupp, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000-meter.
Whiting won the shot put indoor world title two years ago in Istanbul and is hoping to defend his title in Sopot. In addition to his gold medal at the indoor worlds, Whiting also garnered a silver medal at the 2013 outdoor world championships in Moscow. Whiting is coming off a winning performance last month at the USA Indoor Track & Field National Championships held in Albuquerque, N.M., where he posted a throw of 72 feet, 11 ¼ inches.
The 26-year-old comes to Sopot as the reigning Olympic and world champion in the decathlon and the world indoor champion in the heptathlon. He set a world record in Istanbul by racking up 6,645 points. In a teleconference last month, Eaton said he is ready to break the record once more in Poland. “I think I am in shape to break the world record again,” he said.
Four of the top-five finishers from the 800-meter field at the world outdoor championships in Moscow last summer are entered in the indoor world championships this weekend. Among those runners are Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman, the reigning indoor and outdoor world champion, and American Nick Symmonds, who took the silver medal in Moscow.
Considered one of the favorites in the 400-meter is Francena McCorory, who clocked a 50.85 time when capturing the national title last month in Albuquerque. The gold medal winner from the 4x400-meter in London, McCorory should expect tough competition from Russia’s Kseniya Ryzhova.
The Olympic pole vault champion is hoping to repeat her international success and take home her first world indoor title in Poland. Her toughest competition is expected to come from Anna Rogowska, a 2009 world champion who hails from Poland. Rogowska cleared 4.76 meters in February for her best height in three years.
The 19-year-old posted the fastest indoor time of the year at 2:00.43 in the 800-meter at nationals. She is the 2012 world junior champion; she finished sixth at the 2013 world outdoors and won the 800 at the Millrose Games last month.
Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. A former sports reporter for The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, she has covered five Olympic Games. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.