ISTANBUL: “Watch out London – the Americans are coming,” was the message after the U.S. team recorded their best showing at the world indoor championships with 10 gold medals in Istanbul.
Men’s team coach John Moon was in buoyant mood as the athletes, fresh from their record success, now turn their attention to the year’s main event, the Olympics.
“Going into the championships I gave the team a challenge of 17 medals,” Moon told Reuters.
“Some people might have thought that was foolish with such a young team. But we came here and got 18 medals. We sent a message that we are ready for London. I’m proud of this team and it was a team effort.
“Of all of the big stars here, to come out with that many medals is great. They came to the challenge. A lot of these kids will be in London,” he added.
One of the younger team members was 24-year-old Ashton Eaton, who was a class apart in the heptathlon and is seemingly able to break the world record at will after setting his third for the event in two years with 6,645 points.
The U.S. also have the Olympic gold medallist Bryan Clay and world champion Trey Hardee in their ranks.
“If all of us are 100 percent healthy, and even 80 percent in shape, realistically we could sweep [the Olympic medals],” Eaton said.
A revitalized Justin Gatlin showed he was heading back to his best after returning from a four-year doping ban by winning the men’s 60 meters from Jamaican Nesta Carter.
It is likely, however, that he will face a much tougher test in London against the likes of compatriot Tyson Gay and Jamaica’s world record holder Usain Bolt.
The U.S. also showed strength in depth in the jumps with one-two’s for Brittney Reese and Janay DeLoach in the long jump and Will Claye and Christian Taylor in the triple. “Seeing everyone else do well was great,” said Claye. “The jumps in the U.S. are coming back. Plenty of guys are jumping far. They are good guys in college and [world champion] Dwight [Phillips] hasn’t even jumped yet this year.”
There were some timely reminders from Olympic champions Yelena Isinbayeva, Pamela Jelimo and Nataliya Dobrynska at the Atakoy Athletics Arena. Both pole vaulter Isinbayeva and 800 meters runner Pamela Jelimo suffered from injury and loss of form following their triumphs in Beijing but after taking breaks from the sport, the pair comfortably won their respective events.
Russian world record holder Isinbayeva needed just two jumps to earn a fourth world indoor title while Jelimo sped away on the final lap to win the 800.
Ukraine’s Dobrynska won the Olympic heptathlon title but has been overshadowed by Britain’s Jessica Ennis and Tatyana Chernova of Russia since. However, she stepped out of the shadows in Istanbul to break the pentathlon world record with a score of 5,013 and propel herself into the favorite’s position for London.
All eyes were on Ennis and world 5,000 metres champion Mo Farah for the Olympic hosts and although neither won their events in Turkey, Britain finished second in the medals table with their best haul of nine medals, including two golds thanks to surprise victories for 39-year-old Yamile Aldama in the women’s triple jump and the women’s 4x400 relay team.