Led by defending world 200m champion Allyson Felix, the U.S. contingent features 2005 world 400m champion Sanya Richards (200m), 2003 world 100m champion Torri Edwards (100m) and defending world 100m champion Lauryn Williams.
Felix enters the meet as the most formidable sprinter on the scene. In 2005 she went undefeated in her specialty event en route to winning the world title, and after an injury-plagued 2006 she has returned to her undefeated ways in 2007. In her first half-lapper of the year, May 20 at the adidas Track Classic, she ran the still world-leading time of 22.18. But it is her range that may be most impressive this season. On August 7 in Stockholm, she defeated Richards in the 400m, running a personal-best 49.70, the #3 time in the world this season. In the 100, which she also will contest in Osaka, she has run a PR 11.01 in 2007. With speed, endurance and a will to win that defies her willowy physique, Felix will settle for nothing less than her second world title.
Yet Richards is not ready to concede the gold to her teammate. The 2006 World Cup 200m champion, Richards is motivated by missing her specialty event, the 400m, in Osaka. Focusing recently on her speed, Richards ran a personal-best time of 11.05 in the 100 in Stockholm and aims to upset Felix in the 200. Three times recently she has placed second to Felix in 200m competition, at the 2006 World Athletics Final, 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, and on July 15 in Sheffield, England. But her developing speed continues to decrease the gap, and the American record holder at 400 meters undoubtedly will seek to avenge her one-lap loss to Felix in Stockholm. Oddsmakers also can't overlook Torri Edwards, the 2003 World Outdoor runner-up in the 200. 2004 Olympian La Shauntae Moore also will compete for Team USA.
The women's 100 has been an extremely successful event for Team USA, with an American winning every gold medal since 1993 save one, in 2001 when Marion Jones took the sliver. This year the American team packs a particularly potent 1-2 punch. 2003 world champion Edwards has shown the top form of her career in 2007, setting a personal best of 10.90 at the adidas Track Classic and winning her second U.S. title in the event. She has posted a passel of major victories in 2007, including the adidas Track Classic and Nike Prefontaine Classic as well as in Rome, Lausanne and Rethymnon.
Edwards' competition will be fierce, from her teammates as well as her adversaries like 2007 world leader Veronica Campbell of Jamaica. Lauryn Williams was the 2004 Olympic silver medalist and is the reigning world champion. Hobbled by illness and injury in 2006, Williams has gradually been ratcheting up her speed in 2007. Known most notably for her ability to perform well in championship events, Williams is poised for another run at a world title. Edwards and Williams are joined on the U.S. roster by Felix and Carmelita Jeter, who placed third at USA Outdoors.
For more information on Team USA at the World Outdoor Championships, visit www.usatf.org/events
photos Janos Schmidt