Bernard Lagat eases through the 5000m heats in Daegu (© Getty Images)
Madison Square Garden will host perhaps the best and deepest fields it has seen in several years as the 2012 Olympic track & field season kicks off in earnest with the U.S. Open Track & Field event on Saturday, 28 January.
The U.S. Open is the opening competition in the 2012 IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting series.
Full fields for the meet were announced on Tuesday and indicate that Bernard Lagat will be busy trying to win a ninth mile title in the Garden; the men’s high jump adds American depth; and the sprints and hurdles are even more stacked with talent than they were a week ago.
Stars such as David Oliver, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell, Jesse Williams, Nesta Carter, Christian Cantwell, Adam Nelson, Dawn Harper, Kellie Wells, Tiffany Ofili Porter, and Jenn Suhr all have been announced previously.
Lagat faces challenge in mile; top jumpers on tap
The winner of a record eight Wanamaker Miles at the Garden, Lagat will have no free pass to a ninth Garden win. At the U.S. Open, he will take on 2011 World Outdoor 1500m runner-up and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medalist Silas Kiplagat of Kenya, two-time World Indoor silver medalist Daniel Komen Kipchirchir of Kenya, and Henok Legesse of Ethiopia, who owns a mile personal best of 3:54.81.
In the men’s High Jump, World champion Williams will take on 2010 World Indoor bronze medalist Dusty Jonas, 2004 Olympic fourth-place finisher Jamie Nieto, and 2007 USA Outdoor champion Jim Dilling.
More fireworks in sprints, hurdles
The defending World indoor champion, Campbell-Brown will have her hands full in the women’s 50m with reigning U.S. indoor champion Alexandria Anderson and Bianca Knight, who led off Team USA’s gold-medal winning 4x100m Relay at the 2011 World Championships. In the men’s sprint, 2010 USA outdoor runner-up Trell Kimmons joins the field.
A man who has seen success at Madison Square Garden, Terrence Trammell replaces Jason Richardson in the men’s 50m Hurdles. The 2009 and 2010 Millrose Games hurdles champion, Trammell is a two-time World Indoor champion in the 60m Hurdles and is the defending World indoor silver medalist. Also mixing it up will be 2011 U.S. outdoor runner-up Aries Merritt.
In the men’s 600 yards, 2005 World 400m Hurdles gold medallist Bershawn Jackson and Trinidad’s Renny Quow will renew their Garden rivalry. Jackson won the 600 yards at the 2007 and 2010 Millrose Games at the Garden, while Quow was the champion in 2009 and 2011.
Other top athletes announced include World junior champion and 2011 USATF Youth Athlete of the Year Ajee Wilson in the women’s 800m, Anna Pierce in the women’s mile, Ginnie Crawford in the women’s 50m Hurdles, Greg Nixon in the men’s 500m and Monica Hargrove in the women’s 500 yards. A student at the Neptune Academy of Allied Health and Science on Monmouth, N.J., Wilson looks to follow in the Madison Square Garden footsteps of a fellow Jersey Girl, the legendary Joetta Clark-Diggs, whose high school records Wilson broke in 2011.
The inaugural edition of the U.S. Open is the first event of USATF’s Visa Championships Series and will be held in the newly renovated Garden. The first major professional meet in the United States to kick-off the 2012 Olympic year, it will be broadcast on Sunday, January 29, from 7-9 p.m. on ESPN2.
Athlete Fields - 2012 U.S. Open
As of 17 January, 2012; subject to change
Men’s Events -
50 meters: Trell Kimmons (USA), Kimmari Roach (JAM), Asafa Powell (JAM), Justin Gatlin (USA), Daniel Bailey (ANT), Nesta Carter (JAM)
600 yards: Bershawn Jackson (USA), Renny Quow (TRI), Greg Nixon (USA), Tabarie Henry (UVI)
Mile: Bernard Lagat (USA), Silas Kiplagat (KEN), Henok Legesse (ETH), Daniel Komen Kipchirchir (KEN), Anthony Famiglietti (USA), Matt Elliott (USA)
50-meter hurdles: Aries Merritt (USA), David Oliver (USA), Terrence Trammell (USA), Jeff Porter (USA), Dwight Thomas (USA), Omo Osaghae (USA)
Shot Put: Christian Cantwell (USA), Adam Nelson (USA), Ryan Whiting (USA), Cory Martin (USA)
High Jump: Jesse Williams (USA), Dusty Jonas (USA), Jamie Nieto (USA), Jim Dilling (USA)
Women’s Events -
50 meters: Bianca Knight (USA), Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM), Alexandria Anderson (USA), Tehesia Harrigan (IVB), Jessica Young (USA), Gloria Asumnu (NGR)
500 yards: Monica Hargrove (USA), Jasmine Chaney (USA), Keshia Baker (USA), Davita Prendergast (JAM)
800 meters: Ajee Wilson (USA), Fantu Magiso (ETH), Jessica Smith (CAN)
Mile: Anna Pierce (USA), Stephanie Garcia (USA), Lauren Hagans (USA), Brenda Martinez (USA)
50-meter hurdles: Kellie Wells (USA), Lolo Jones (USA), Dawn Harper (USA), Tiffany Porter (GBR), Nia Ali (USA), Ginnie Crawford (USA)
Pole Vault: Jenn Suhr (USA), Becky Holliday (USA), Jillian Schwartz (ISR), Lacy Jansen (USA), Mary Saxer (USA), Janice Keppler (USA)
USATF (Organisers) for the IAAF