Team USA to battle many of world's finest 4x100 teams at USA vs. The World
INDIANAPOLIS - Team USA will take on many of the world's finest relay teams Saturday at USA vs. The World at the 112th running of the Penn Relays at Philadelphia's Franklin Field. Some of the biggest names in U.S. sprinting, including Justin Gatlin, Lauryn Williams, Shawn Crawford and Rachelle Boone-Smith, will compete in the seventh edition of USA vs. The World, where Team USA will look to continue its dominance at this annual event.
The first event of the 2005 USATF Outdoor Visa Championship Series, USA vs. The World will be broadcast on NBC on Sunday, April 30 from 5-6 p.m. Eastern Time.
Nearly 150 athletes from 10 countries around the globe will compete at this year's USA vs. The World, held annually at the Penn Relays since 2000 and featuring men's and women's 4x100 and 4x400m relays. The 2006 edition of USA vs. The World will feature a women's sprint medley relay and a men's distance medley relay. Countries challenging Team USA this year include Jamaica, Russia, China, Great Britain, Germany, Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Canada and Finland.
In 2005, Team USA squads won the men's and women's 4x100m and sprint relays, with the Team USA Red women's team winning the 4x400. Jamaica's men's 4x400m relay team ended the American stranglehold on every 4x100 and 4x400m relay since the event's inception at the Penn Relays with their victory in 3:02.63. Jamaica is the only team to unseat the American women, winning the 4x100 relay in 2002 and 4x200m relay in 2001.
Gatlin, Crawford headline Team USA 4x100m relay pool
Team USA's 4x100m men's pool features a tremendous array of talent that will be led by Olympic gold medalists Justin Gatlin and Shawn Crawford.
Gatlin left little doubt last season that he is the world's top sprinter with his 100m and 200m gold medal wins at the World Outdoor Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Gatlin also won both events at the 2005 USA Outdoor Championships in becoming the first man to achieve that feat since Kirk Baptiste in 1985. The 2004 Olympic 100m gold medalist, Gatlin ended the 2005 campaign ranked #1 in the world in the men's 100 and 200 meters by Track & Field News.
Crawford is looking forward to a strong season in 2006 after winning the 200m gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens in a personal best time of 19.79. The fourth-place finisher in the 100 meters at Athens, Crawford also ran the lead leg on Team USA's silver medal-winning 4x100m relay team. Gatlin and Crawford teamed with fellow relay pool member Rodney Martin last weekend in winning the 4x100m relay (with Dwight Thomas) at the 79th Kansas Relays with a new meet record and fastest time in the world this season of 38.16 seconds.
Other members of Team USA's sprint relay pool include 2006 World and U.S. Indoor 60m champion Leonard Scott, 2005 World Athletics Final 200m champion Tyson Gay, 2005 USA Outdoor Championships 100m sixth-place finisher Rae Edwards and 2001 World University Games 100m gold medalist Marcus Brunson.
Although the lineups for the international teams will not be finalized until Saturday, international stars looking to make a splash in the men's 4x400m relay competition include Marc Burns of Trinidad & Tobago, who finished seventh in the 100m at last year's World Outdoor Championships. The usual large gathering of Jamaican fans attending the Penn Relays will cheer loudly for 2004 Olympic team 4x100m relay members Michael Frater and Dwight Thomas. 2000 World Junior 100m champion Mark Lewis-Francis of Great Britain also is expected to compete on Saturday. The British men are the reigning Olympic gold medalists, having defeated Team USA in Athens.
Team USA women look to win again at Penn
Led by Lauryn Williams and Rachelle Boone-Smith, the Team USA women's 4x100m relay lineup is a strong group of talented athletes, who will look for another win at USA vs. The World.
Williams is coming off a tremendous season in 2005 when she won the World Outdoor 100m title in Helsinki. The anchor-leg runner of Team USA's 2005 World Championships gold medal winning 4x100m relay squad, Williams got off to a fast start in 2006 with her runner-up finish in the 60 meters at the USA Indoor Championships and a silver medal winning performance at the World Indoor Championships in Moscow, Russia.
Boone-Smith is coming off the finest season of her career highlighted by her 200m silver medal at the World Outdoor Championships and runner-up finish at the USA Outdoor Championships. Boone-Smith, who won the 200m last year at the Kansas Relays, finished the season ranked #2 in the world.
Other U.S. stars in the 4x100m relay pool include 2005 USA Outdoor Champs 100m runner-up and World Outdoor Championships finalist Muna Lee, and 2004 Olympic Trials 100m champion LaTasha Colander, who ended the 2005 season ranked #5 in the world at 200 meters and #10 globally at 100 meters. Also look for 2005 World Outdoor long jump gold medalist Tianna Madison to be in the mix, along with 2005 USA Indoor 60m champion and Visa Championship Series winner Angela Daigle. Two-time World Outdoor Championships 4x100m relay medalist and four-time NCAA 100m champion Angela Williams could also play a key role for Team USA.
Aleen Bailey, who ran the third leg on Jamaica's 2004 Olympic gold medal winning 4x100m relay team and placed fifth in the 100 meters in Athens, will lead her nation's squad in an upset bid against Team USA.
Williams, Colander to lead Team USA sprint medley relay squad
Lauryn Williams and LaTasha Colander are also members of Team USA's sprint medley relay squad (200m-200m-400m-800m) that will look to win the second women's sprint medley relay in USA vs. The World history. Last year it was two-time Olympian Hazel Clark who was the hero for Team USA in the inaugural women's sprint medley relay. Clark took the baton for the 800m anchor leg, covering the first 400 meters in a searing 56 seconds. The quick pace was nearly her downfall in the final meters, but the South Orange, N.J., native held off Kenia Sinclair of Jamaica to take the win.