Team USA is ready to take on the World at the upcoming World Athletics Championships Oregon22. First Published by WCH Oregon 22: https://worldathletics.org/competitions/world-athletics-championships/oregon22/news/report/stars-shine-on-final-day-of-usatf-championships.
World Athletics Championships Oregon22 is an unmissable global experience taking place in the United States for the very first time. The best track and field athletes in the world are coming together in a celebration of diversity, human potential, and athletic achievement. This extraordinary showcase is taking center stage in the heart and home of the sport of track and field in the U.S: in Oregon, in Eugene, in Hayward Field at the University of Oregon.
Team USA, the world’s #1 team, will lay it all on the line on their home turf, in a setting that is both richly intimate and magnificently state-of-the-art. An incredible theater for the sport, the newly reimagined Hayward Field will be the epicenter of local, national, and global communities July 15–24, 2022. Many of these athletes live and work in Oregon.
With the conclusion of the U.S. Track and Field Outdoor Championships 2022 last weekend at Hayward Field, some of the United States’ biggest track and field stars showed they’re ready to take on the world on home soil in three weeks at World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
Now, the likes of Noah Lyles, Athing Mu, Rai Benjamin, Emma Coburn, and Grant Fisher are ready to welcome the world to the first World Athletics Championships on U.S. soil.
“This is just a little taste of what we’re going to get in three weeks,” said Mu, the 2020 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 800m, who won Sunday in 1 minute, 57.16 seconds, just off her world-leading time of 1:57.01. “The crowd was amazing here. I’m excited just to have that home-field advantage. Having worlds here is definitely awesome. It’s good for America and track and field. Excited to have good races and good competition.”
Mu got a good race and a good competition from indoor World Athletics Championships gold medalist Ajee Wilson, who passed Mu on the homestretch before Mu responded and won with Wilson second in 1:57.23, a season best. Raevyn Rogers, the 2019 World Athletics Championships silver medalist, was third in a 1:57.96, also a season best.
Lyles, the defending World Athletics Champion in the men’s 200m, should be favored to repeat at WCH Oregon22. He won in 19.67 seconds Sunday, coming from behind to beat teenager Erriyon Knighton, who ran 19.69. Fred Kerley, who set a world-leading time of 9.76 seconds in the 100m on Friday, was third in 19.83, and Kenny Bednarek, the silver medalist in the 200m at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, was fourth in 19.87 to complete the team for Eugene.
Lyles had a bye into WCH Oregon22, but tested positive for COVID-19 on June 13, the day after he ran 19.61 in New York. He said he felt he needed to run all three rounds at the U.S. Championships.
“This is just a message to let them know,” Lyles said. “I didn’t have to run today but I did, and I showed them that I’ll always come out and defend my title.”
“I came out here knowing that I didn’t have as many 200s under my belt as I normally do, so running all three rounds was definitely going to get me all the rounds I needed,” he said. “Now I’m consistently dropping 19.6, so the more 19.6s I see, the more times it’s going to be like, all right, something big is going to happen.”
Benjamin, the 2019 World Athletics Championships silver medalist and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver medalist, entered the U.S. meet having run only one 400m hurdle race all season after testing positive for COVID-19 and suffering from hamstring tendonitis. His only previous race before coming to Eugene was a 47.49-second runner-up performance on May 13 in Doha, Qatar, where he finished behind Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos, the Olympic bronze medalist, who has run 47.23 and 47.24 this season.
“All I know is that I’m on home soil and I’ve got the home ground,” Benjamin said, “and it’s going to be special.”
The other world-leading time of the day was turned in by Abby Steiner, who won the 200m in 21.77 seconds. Steiner set the collegiate record of 21.80 in winning the NCAA title for Kentucky 15 days earlier at Hayward Field, and that was the world’s previous fastest time. She equaled that 21.80-second clocking in winning her semifinal heat and was even faster in the final. That world lead only held up for a few hours as Shericka Jackson ran 21.55 later Sunday at the Jamaican championships.
“I think the biggest thing was just taking it one round at a time and executing each race and not getting too far ahead of myself,” Steiner said. “I think the biggest thing is to not put limitations on yourself, and I completely trust my coach so I know that his training cycles will have me ready for these meets. Making some new goals for worlds.”
For Steiner, this season has been about fulfilling her promise as a sprinter after being beset by injuries in the past.
“I’m excited to be on a world stage for the first time and being able to represent my country, it’s really special,” Steiner said. “We always said after the way last year ended that delay doesn’t mean denial. Although last year was the end of a chapter, it wasn’t the end of my story.”
Coburn won her 10th 3,000m steeplechase U.S. title in 10 tries in a season-best 9 minutes, 10.63 seconds. Coburn won the 2017 World Athletics Championships gold medal and was the silver medalist in Doha in 2019. She also won the Olympic bronze medal in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, but struggled in last year’s Olympic final in Tokyo and was later disqualified for an infraction.
Coburn said “this might be my favorite,” U.S. title because of what happened in Tokyo.
“I don’t know how many of these my mom is going to see, and she was here. That’s just really, really sweet,” Coburn said. “I was on my victory lap, and I saw my sister and she was crying, and I made fun of her. I was like ‘why are you crying?’ and she’s like, ‘it’s such a big deal, 10 (titles).’ That was my intention coming in, a lot of swagger, I’m going to win my 10th. Qualifying for a world team on U.S. soil, doing it in front of my mom, winning my 10th title after a really crummy experience at my last big race in Tokyo, this is pretty great.”
In the men’s and women’s 5,000m races, the Bowerman Track Club of Portland had the top two finishers in each race. In the men’s race, Grant Fisher ran 4:03 over the final mile to set a meet record of 13 minutes, 3.86 seconds with teammate Woody Kincaid second in 13:06.70. Northern Arizona’s Abdihamid Nur, who set the collegiate record earlier this year, just missed making it three runners under Paul Chelimo’s meet record of 13:08.62 when he ran 13:08.63. In the women’s race, Elise Cranny successfully defended her title in 15:49.15 with teammate Karissa Schweizer second in 15:49.32. Schweizer was the U.S. 10,000m winner in May and was fourth in Saturday’s 1,500m final. The third spot went to Emily Infeld, the 2015 World Athletics Championship bronze medalist at 10,000m, who ran 15:49.42 after being sidelined with injuries the past few years.
“Hayward has been good to me,” Fisher said. “I love coming here. It will be like home track advantage a little bit at Worlds. It’s nice having family and friends make it out. Last year in Tokyo (at the Olympics), no family and friends and no spectators, so this will be fun, and it will be fun to see the stadium full.”