The CHill Zone of T&F: Conway's View From the Finish Line

The World is Coming

Jul 1st, 2022
6:00 am PDT

Sound the alarm. The British are coming. The British are coming. And the French, Italians, Nigerians, and Ethiopians. The World Championships begin July 15th, and they’ll be here in the United States for the first time. While people are making a big deal out of it, the US has hosted global events in the past. I mean, We’ve hosted the two largest sports gatherings in the world, the Soccer World Cup (’97/’03) and the Olympics several times – most recently in Atlanta in 1996. As a matter of fact, we’ll be hosting the Olympics again in 2028. And recently we hosted the World Indoor Track Championships in 2016. This just happens to be the first World Outdoor Track Championships in America.

It couldn’t come at a better time. Coming on the heels of an Olympics where we had to travel half way around the world, in the middle of a global health crisis. And to be honest, we didn’t do as well as we anticipated. Not that we expected to dominate the Olympics mind you, because the world has gotten better. A lot better. There were events however, that we’ve just traditionally performed a bit better than we did in Tokyo. I’m talking primarily about the sprints, hurdles, and relays. And Americans took issue with that. I’m not gonna lie, I had a problem with that myself. Reasons were given however, such as showing up without enough time to acclimate, because of Covid rules, and the lack of a training camp for the same reason. In the end, the results were some sub par performances on the track.

So, after selecting what appears to be another stellar team. We get a “do over” in two weeks time – with a “home field advantage” no less! No long term travel, because this time there will only be a couple of time zones involved. No masks, or restrictions. And we’ll have the ability to conduct training camps. Best of all, we’ll be competing at the same venue where we recently completed our national championships. In front of a home crowd no less. Much better conditions than a year ago. So, will we be able to “make up” for last year’s performances? I would say the odds are excellent that we do. So, this is how we’ll look on the track in those “failed” events this time.

The sprints tend to get a lot of focus in global Championships. Especially the 100 meters. Part of last year’s “disappointment” was that we lost both the men and women’s titles in this signature event. This go round, both the men and women have outstanding squads to put on the track. Led by Trials champions Fred Kerley (9.76) and Melissa Jefferson (10.69w). The finishers behind both, put up stellar times, with the men – Marvin Bracy (9.85) and Trayvon Bromell (9.82) standing among the best in the world. On the women’s side, only the Jamaicans can keep us off the podium. As based on recent performances the US women should be more competitive than in Tokyo!

We also have the defending World champions in the men’s 100 (Christian Coleman) and 200 (Noah Lyles) to go with the above. Current world 200 leader, Erriyon Knighton. And two of the three fastest quartermilers this year in Michael Norman, Champion Allison and Randolph Ross. On the women’s side we have Trials 200 champion, Abby Steiner. Who has 3 of the top 4 times in the world in her event. Throw in strong depth in each event, and we should improve on last year’s performances.

The men’s 110H boasts defending World champion, Grant Holloway (12.81) who is #2 all time. He’ll be joined by #3 all time, Devon Allen (12.84); Collegiate champion, Trey Cunningham (13.00); and former national champion, Daniel Roberts (13.00). A pretty formidable group. The women’s short hurdles are just as formidable with the defending World champion (Nia Ali). And the current two fastest women in the world, Keni Harrison and Alaysha Johnson. As good as the short hurdle group is, the 400H group is even stronger! I’ll start with the women and defending champion, Delilah Muhammad, who is also #2 all time. Then I’ll follow up with Olympic champion and WR holder, Sydney McLaughlin. Who is threatening to put the record out of reach of mere mortals! Throw in collegiate champ Britton Wilson and super vet Shamier Little, and the only thing preventing a sweep might be Dutch hurdler Femke Bol, #3 all time. On the men’s side, we boast Olympic silver medalist and #2 all time, Rai Benjamin. He’s joined by two newbies at this level in Trevor Bassett and Khalifa Rosser. New but fast, as they are #’s 3 & 4 on the yearly list

Perhaps the biggest complaints came after the relays last year. Specifically the 4×1’s. Now, the men’s was well deserved. As it was the first time they’ve finished a race and failed to make the final. The result of horrible passing. The women however, won silver in one of the fastest times ever run by an American squad. They just lost. But the final pass left a bit to be desired. So, the “what if” syndrome took over. This time around, we have a new relay coach in Mike Marsh. Former 200 meter gold medalist and multiple relay gold medalist. And the athletes have already been talking about a relay camp. So the assumption on my part is that practice will be held, and done properly. Add to that, a sterling list of individuals to choose from for the relay pool. I’m going to stick my neck out and say that we will see better results at Worlds this time.

As a matter of fact, that’s what I’m expecting to see all the way around – better. Starting with winning. We did collect a fair number of medals in these events at Tokyo. The real issue however, was that we didn’t win a single individual gold medal on either the men or women’s side. That was a first. I don’t see that happening again this year. We’re truly too good and too deep for that to happen. If it does, then the world has not only caught up, but surpassed us. And THAT would be cause for some serious soul searching, because we have the talent, coaching, and resources.

That said, my next post will be my “Predictions” for these events.

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