INDIANAPOLIS - Team USA stars Allyson Felix, LaShawn Merritt, Sanya Richards, Christian Cantwell, Brittney Reese, Tyson Gay, Bernard Lagat, Dwight Phillips and Kerron Clement will lead a strong contingent of Americans at the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final September 12-13 at Thessaloniki, Greece.
A total prize purse of more than $3,000,000 dollars awaits many of the world's greatest athletes headlined by 30 gold, 26 silver and 25 bronze medalists from last month's World Championships in Athletics in Berlin, Germany.
Seven Americans who won individual gold medals at Worlds will be featured in Greece this weekend led by two-time Olympic women's 200m silver medalist Allyson Felix, who captured her third career World Outdoor Championships gold medal in Berlin. Felix, who won world titles in 2005 and 2007 and has been ranked #1 in the world four of the last five years, posted the fastest time in the world this year of 21.88 in Stockholm on July 31. Felix entered the 200m final at Worlds tied with Jamaican standout Merlene Ottey (1993, 1995), with two world titles. Now she stands alone.
2008 Olympic men's 400m gold medalist and reigning world champion LaShawn Merritt will look to defend his World Athletics Final title that he won last year in Stuttgart, Germany. Merritt, who entered this season ranked #1 in the world, owns the five-fastest times in the world this year, with his 44.06 from his win at the World Championships leading the way.
Sanya Richards has been enjoying a banner season highlighted by her 400m win at the World Championships in Berlin, and by securing a share of the 2009 IAAF Golden League $1,000,000 jackpot with her win last week at the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels, Belgium. Richards dominated her signature event in Brussels leading from start to finish before crossing the finish line in a world-leading 48.83 seconds, her second best effort ever. It also tied her with National Track & Field Hall of Famer Valerie Brisco-Hooks for the second-best performance ever by an American. This is the third time in Richards' career she has won a share of the Golden League jackpot, having already earned shares in 2006 and 2007. Richards intends to run the 200m and 400m over the weekend.
2008 Olympic silver medalist Christian Cantwell is slated to compete in Thessaloniki after winning the men's shot put at Worlds with a heave of 22.03 meters/72 feet 3.50 inches, which is the third-farthest in World Championships history, and the second best throw in the world this outdoor season. Cantwell posted the 2009 world-leading toss of 22.16m/72-8.50 on August 31 in Zagreb.
Two-time USA Outdoor champion and 2008 Olympic Games fifth-place finisher Brittney Reese has been the top women's long jumper throughout this outdoor season, and she proved it again at the World Championships when she won the gold medal on her third attempt soaring to a personal best 7.10 meters/23-feet 3.50 inches. Reese's top leap in Berlin is the farthest in the world this year, and she also owns the second (7.06m/23-2) and third (6.99m/22-11.25) best jumps globally this outdoor season.
Also keep an eye on 2007 World Outdoor men's 1,500m and 5,000m champion and two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat, who won the silver medal in the 5,000 meters, and the 1,500m bronze medal at the World Championships in Berlin. 2007 World Outdoor Champs 100m and 200m gold medalist Tyson Gay will compete in Thessaloniki after capturing the 100m silver medal in Berlin in the American record time of 9.71 seconds, which is the third-fastest time ever run. Also this year at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York, Gay posted the fifth-fastest time ever in the men's 200m when he crossed the line first in 19.58.
2004 Olympic gold medalist Dwight Phillips won the gold medal at a World Outdoor Championships for the third time in his career last month in Berlin when he soared to 8.54 meters/28 feet .75 inch. Earlier this year Phillips easily won at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., when he soared to 8.74 meters/28 feet 8.25 inches, which leads the 2009 world outdoor list. That effort tied him with Larry Myricks and Erick Walder for the eighth-best outdoor mark in history. The trio are also tied as the #5 performers all time. It was the longest jump in the world since National Track & Field Hall of Famer Mike Powell set the world record in 1991.
2008 Olympic Games men's 400m hurdles silver medalist Kerron Clement won the second world title of his career in Berlin when he crossed the finish line in 47.91 seconds, which is the fastest time in the world this year. Clement, who also won the world title in 2007, will look to defend his 2008 World Athletics Final crown this weekend.
Additional U.S. silver medalists from the 2009 World Championships slated to compete at the World Athletics Final include 2007 World Champs silver medalist Lashinda Demus, and 2009 USA Outdoor Championships women's pole vault runner-up Chelsea Johnson.
Team USA bronze medalists competing this weekend in Thessaloniki include 2007 World Champs men's 200m bronze medalist Wallace Spearmon, 2005 World Outdoor champion and 2008 Olympic Games bronze medalist in the 400m hurdles, Bershawn Jackson, 2007 World Outdoor Championships women's 100m bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter and two-time USA Outdoor champion Shannon Rowbury, who's third-place finish was the highest by an American in the women's 5,000 meters at the World's since 1999.
For more information on the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Final in Greece, visit: IAAF.org. Fans can watch the meet LIVE at UniversalSports.com, beginning at 11:15 a.m. ET, Saturday, September 12.
About USA Track & Field
USA Track & Field (USATF) is the National Governing Body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking in the United States. USATF encompasses the world's oldest organized sports, some of the most-watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the #1 high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.
For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.