Lolo Jones (left) will be seeking the gold medal in the 100 hurdles at the Olympics.
CONTACT: Mike Mahon, 515-271-3014, email@example.com
DES MOINES, IOWA -- It's a sure bet that track and field fans in the state of Iowa will have a vested interest when the sport begins its 10-day run in the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, starting Friday.
The United States men's and women's track and field roster features 27 Drake Relays alumni with as many as nine athletes expected to challenge for medals.
An additional 60 foreign athletes, who have competed at the Drake Relays, also will perform with a strong contingent contending for medals.
The track event drawing the most interest is the women's 100 hurdles featuring Des Moines native Lolo Jones in her Olympic debut. Jones, the reigning four-time Drake Relays champion and record holder (12.74 seconds) in the event, won the 60 hurdles at the 2008 World Indoor Championships and then matched the fastest American time ever of 12.29 (wind aided) en route to winning the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Jones' strongest challenge will come from Sweden's Susanna Kallur, who was a member of the Illinois women's shuttle hurdle relay team that set a world record of 52.85 at the 2001 Drake Relays.
Kallur set the 60 hurdles indoor world record of 7.68 in January and was favored to win the World Indoor title but pulled out of the semifinal heat with a leg injury.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner is favored to defend his Olympic title in the men's 400. Wariner won the men's invitational 200 at the 2006 Drake Relays. Wariner also will run on the U.S. 4x400 relay which is expected to defend its title. He will be joined on the relay by Darold Williamson, who won the men's invitational 400 at the 2005 Drake Relays.
Allyson Felix, who ran in the 100 at the 2006 Drake Relays, is favored to win the gold medal in the women's 200. Felix, the 2007 World Outdoor champion, earned a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics at the age of 18.
Six-time Drake Relays champion Christian Cantwell and two-time Drake Relays champion Reese Hoffa, are listed as the top two contenders to bring home the gold in the men's shot put which starts this Friday. Hoffa, who also competed in the 2004 Olympics, is the reigning World Outdoor champion and Olympic Trials champ.
Hoffa was ranked No. 1 in the world in 2006 and 2007. Cantwell was named the 2008 Men's World Indoor Athlete of the Year after winning shot put titles at both the U.S. Indoor Championships and World Indoor Championships.
Bernard Lagat, who won the mile at the 2002 and 2004 Drake Relays, is ready for the gold medal in the 1,500. But this time around he will be representing the United States after earning a bronze at the 2000 Olympics and silver medal at the 2004 Olympics for Kenya.
Derek Miles, two-time Drake Relays champion (2002, 2008), is expected to contend for a medal in the men's pole vault along with eight-time Drake Relays champion and record holder Jeff Hartwig. Both athletes are competing in their second Olympics.