Bernard Lagat celebrates as he crosses the line to win gold ahead of Mo Farah and Edwin Sol in the men’s 3000m in Istanbul (© Getty Images)
In Istanbul two years ago, the US team dominated the medals table with 10 golds and twice as many medals than any other nation. At this year’s IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, they will once again be the nation to beat.
Excluding reserves (of which there are 16), the US will be represented by 48 athletes in Sopot, making them the largest team in the Polish city.
Of their nine individual reigning champions, three of them will defend their titles in Sopot – Ashton Eaton in the heptathlon, Ryan Whiting in the shot and Bernard Lagat in the 3000m.
The heptathlon in Sopot will be Eaton’s sole combined events competition of 2014 as he is taking a break from the decathlon this summer. He will be targeting his own world indoor record of 6645 set two years ago in Istanbul.
Whiting recently won the US indoor title with an indoor PB of 22.23m, the longest indoor performance for six years. Ulf Timmerman’s 1987 winning mark of 22.24m – just one centimetre farther than Whiting’s recent PB – is the oldest championship record at the World Indoors, but it could be under threat in Sopot.
In Istanbul two years ago, Lagat became the oldest ever gold medallist in a men’s event at the World Indoor Championships. He could potentially rewrite history in Sopot by becoming the oldest ever men’s finalist or champion.
Aside from the three defending champions, the US team has many other genuine gold medal contenders, including world indoor pole vault record-holder Jenn Suhr, US 60m champion Marvin Bracy, world junior 800m champion Ajee Wilson, 60m hurdles world leader Nia Ali and North American pentathlon record-holder Sharon Day-Monroe.
US team for Sopot (reserves in parentheses):
60m: Marvin Bracy, Trell Kimmons, (Joseph Morris)
400m: Kyle Clemons, David Verburg, (Kind Butler)
800m: Erik Sowinski, Nick Symmonds, (Michael Rutt)
1500m: Lopez Lomong, Will Leer, (Garrett Heath)
3000m: Bernard Lagat, Galen Rupp, (Ryan Hill)
60m hurdles: Dominic Berger, Omo Osaghae, (Terrence Trammell)
High jump: Dusty Jonas, Erik Kynard
Long jump: Tyron Stewart, Jeff Henderson
Triple jump: Chris Carter
Shot put: Kurt Roberts, Ryan Whiting, (Joe Kovacs)
Heptathlon: Ashton Eaton
4x400m: Ricky Babineaux, Kind Butler, Kyle Clemons, Clayton Parros, Calvin Smith, David Verburg
60m: Tianna Bartoletta, LaKeisha Lawson, (Barbara Pierre)
400m: Joanna Atkins, Francena McCorory, (Natasha Hastings)
800m: Chanelle Price, Ajee Wilson, (Molly Beckwith-Ludlow)
1500m: Mary Cain, Treniere Moser, (Heather Kampf)
3000m: Gabe Grunewald, Shannon Rowbury, (Jordan Hasay)
60m hurdles: Nia Ali, Janay DeLoach Soukup, (Kristi Castlin)
High jump: Inika McPherson
Pole vault: Mary Saxer, Jenn Suhr, (Kylie Hutson)
Long jump: Tori Bowie, Tori Polk, (Funmi Jimoh)
Shot put: Michelle Carter, Jeneva McCall, (Felisha Johnson)
Pentathlon: Sharon Day-Monroe
4x400m: Joanna Atkins, Monica Hargrove, Natasha Hastings, Jernail Hayes, Francena McCorory, Cassandra Tate