The third and final event of the USA Track & Field 2010 Indoor Visa Championship Series, the USA Indoor Championships will be televised February 28, from 7 - 9 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN2. In addition to competing for a total prize purse of $117,000, U.S. athletes will have the opportunity to qualify for Team USA roster spots for the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships, March 12-14, in Doha, Qatar.
The Visit Albuquerque, along with the New Mexico Sports Authority, the University of New Mexico and the USATF New Mexico, are the official hosts for the championship, which will also be held in Albuquerque in 2011 and 2010.
Nike Men's 3,000 meters
This race will feature an intriguing 'Old Lion' vs. 'Young Lion' matchup between two-time Olympic Games medalist and 2007 World Outdoor Championships 1,500m and 5,000m champion Bernard Lagat, and rising star Galen Rupp, who was a finalist in the 10,000m at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2009 World Outdoor Championships in Berlin, Germany.
The two staged a memorable battle earlier this year on February 6 when they met in the 5,000m at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games. In taking on the indoor 5,000m for the first time in his storied career, the 35-year old Lagat claimed that his goal was to set the American record in that event, which was set by Rupp in 2009 when he clocked 13:18.12 at the Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark.
Despite fighting a cold earlier in the week, Rupp took the lead with 1,000m to go, with Lagat following close behind. With 300 meters remaining Lagat exhibited his classic miler's kick and forged to the front before crossing the finish line first in the new American record time of 13:11.50. Rupp finished fourth in 13:14.21, which also bettered the pre-race American record.
Additional contenders in the men's 3,000m include 2009 USA Outdoor Championships 5,000m runner-up and World Outdoor Championships finalist Chris Solinsky, and 2008 Team USA World Cross Country Championships team member Scott Bauhs.
Visa Men's 60 Meters
The hottest men's sprinter on the U.S. Indoor circuit this winter has been 2005 national JUCO 100m champion Ivory Williams, who posted Visa Championship Series 60m wins at the Millrose Games and the Reebok Boston Indoor Games.
Williams crossed the finish line first at the Millrose Games in New York in 6.59 seconds, and followed that up with a personal best performance in Boston when he stopped the clocks in 6.51 seconds, which is the second-fastest time in the world this year.
The 2004 World Junior 100m champion, Williams will be challenged by 2008 Olympic Games 100m and 200m bronze medalist Walter Dix, who is looking to bounce back after a sub-par 2009 campaign. Others to keep an eye on include 2009 USA Outdoor 100m champion and 2008 USA Indoor 60m champ Michael Rodgers, who finished fourth at the 2008 World Indoor Championships and owns the third-fastest time in the world this year of 6.53 seconds from his runner-up finish to Williams at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games. 2008 Olympic Games relay competitor Travis Padgett, who finished fourth in the 100m at the 2008 Olympic Trials and at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships, will be in the mix, along with 2007 World Outdoor 4x100m gold medalist Leroy Dixon.
Hershey's Men's 400 Meters
The Hershey's men's 400 meters should be an entertaining event featuring two highly accomplished athletes who are known more for their expertise in hurdles competition.
Kerron Clement enters the championships after winning his second consecutive World Outdoor Championships 400m hurdles title, and a gold medal in the 4x400m relay at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany. At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Clement won silver in the 400m hurdles and gold in the 4x400m relay. Clement has been ranked #1 in the world in the 400m hurdles by Track & Field News over the last three years.
Also keep a close eye on 2005 World 400m hurdles champion and 2008 Olympic Games bronze medalist Bershawn "Batman" Jackson, who won the bronze medal at last year's World Championships in Berlin. Jackson, who ended the 2009 season ranked #2 in the world in the 400m hurdles, owns Visa Championship Series wins this year in the 600 yards at the Millrose Games (1:11.26) and in the 400 meters at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games (46.86). Jackson won the USA Indoor 400m title in 2005.
Additional challengers include 2008 Olympic Trials 400m fourth-place finisher and Olympic Games 4x400m relay gold medalist Reggie Witherspoon, reigning USA Indoor champion Jamaal Torrance and 2009 USA Outdoor Championships fourth-place finisher and World Championships 4x400m relay gold medalist Lionel Larry.
Nike Men's 800 Meters
2008 Olympic Trials champion Nick Symmonds will headline the field in the Nike Men's 800 Meters as he looks to add another USA Indoor title to go along with the one he captured in 2007.
Symmonds, who won the 2009 USA Outdoor 800m title, is a two-time USA Outdoor Championships runner-up and a seven-time NCAA Division III champion. At the 2009 World Outdoor Championships, Symmonds became the first American to qualify for the men's 800m final since Rich Kenah won the bronze medal and Mark Everett finished eighth in 1997. Symmonds finished sixth in 1:45.71.
Symmonds, who has been living and training in Albuquerque for the last four weeks, will be challenged by his longtime rival and defending USA Indoor champion Khadevis Robinson, who will be looking to win his fifth career USA Indoor 800m title to add to his previous triumphs in 1999, 2006, 2008 & 2009. A 2004 Olympian, Robinson owns four USA Outdoor titles (1999, 2005, 2006, 2007) and has competed as a member of Team USA at six World Outdoor Championships.
Others to watch include University of Oregon standout and 2008 Olympian Andrew Wheating, 2005 World Outdoor Championships team member Kevin Hicks, 2004 Olympian, Olympic Trials winner and NCAA Outdoor champion Jonathan Johnson and 2006 NCAA Outdoor champion and third-place finisher at the 2009 USA Outdoor Championships, Ryan Brown.
Men's 1,500 Meters
Nike Men's 3,000m combatants Galen Rupp and Chris Solinsky are also slated to tangle in the 1,500 meters. Solinsky was the 2006 Big Ten Conference champion in that event as a junior at Wisconsin, and Rupp was the 2005 U.S. Junior Championships runner-up in that event before finishing fourth later that summer at the Pan Am Junior championships.
The favorite in the race will be former University of Texas star and 2008 Olympian Leonel Manzano, who was the 2007 USA and NCAA Outdoor Championships 1,500m runner-up. Manzano, who finished 12th at the 2009 World Outdoor Championships, is the 2006 NCAA Indoor mile champion and ended the 2009 season ranked #3 in the U.S. by T&FN.
Men's 60 Meter Hurdles
Two-time Olympic Games 110m hurdles silver medalist and three-time World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Terrence Trammell enters the championships in search of his fifth U.S. Indoor crown to go along with the titles he won in 2000, 2001, 2006 & 2009.
The reigning men's Indoor Visa Championship Series winner, Trammell has been without peer so far this winter with wins at the Millrose Games in 7.49 seconds, and a victory at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games in the identical clocking. Trammell owns two of the top four fastest times in the world this year with his best coming from his win February 13 in Leipzig in the world leading time of 7.43.
Trammell will face a strong challenge from 2008 Olympic Games 110m hurdles bronze medalist and 2008 USA Indoor champion David Oliver, who equaled Trammell's fourth-fastest time in the world this year of 7.49 when he finished second in Stuttgart, Germany, on February 6. Others to watch include up-and-comer Dexter Faulk, who ended the 2009 season ranked #5 in the world, and 2005 USA Indoor champion and 2005 World Outdoor Championships sixth-place finisher Joel Brown.
As an added attraction for this event, look for the world's two finest decathletes Bryan Clay and Trey Hardee on the starting line of the 60m hurdles.
Clay claimed the "world's greatest athlete" moniker with his dominating decathlon win at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The first U.S. Olympic decathlon champ since Dan O'Brien in 1996, Clay amassed 8,791 points in capturing the Olympic gold medal.Clay also won the decathlon at the 2005 World Outdoor Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
A former star at the University of Texas, Hardee won the decathlon at the 2009 World Athletics Championships in Berlin with a personal best score of 8,790 points, which bettered his previous PR of 8,534 by 256 points. Hardee posted a winning margin of 150 points over the field and his performance in Berlin made him the #3 all-time American in the decathlon behind only Dan O'Brien and Bryan Clay. His performance is ranked #9 on the all time list and was the highest score at a World Outdoor Championships since 2001.
Men's 5,000m Race Walk
Two-time Olympian Tim Seaman will be looking for his 43rd career national race walk title this weekend when he answers the gun for the men's 5,000m race walk. Seaman is a 5-time U.S. 20 km champion ('98, '00, '02, '04, '05, '09) and has won 11 of the last 12 U.S. Indoor race walk titles. Currently tied with National Track & Field Hall of Famer Henry Laskau with 42 U.S. race walk crowns, Seaman trails only Hall of Famer Ron Laird, who owns the most U.S. race walk national titles in history with 65.
2009 USA Outdoor Championships 20 km race walk runner-up Patrick Stroupe, and last year's U.S. 20 km third-place finisher Ben Shorey will attempt to keep Seaman from making history in Albuquerque.
For more information on the 2010 USA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque and the 2010 Visa Championship Series, visit www.visachampionshipseries.com or www.usatf.org.
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 www.usatf.org