Monday, July 21, 2014

World junior championships begin Tuesday at Hayward Field...

The eyes of the track & field world will once again focus on Eugene beginning on Tuesday as the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships begins a six-day run at Historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon.

For the first time since Boston hosted the 1992 World Cross Country Championships, the United States will host an IAAF championship, and it does so in the venue known as the Carnegie Hall of track and field.

The meet features the world's best 19-and under athletes who've met qualifying standards, and picked by their respective national federations to compete in Eugene.

There are five athletes with Washington ties competing in the meet--Camas High's Alexa Efraimson and the University of Washington's Colby Gilbert; fellow Husky Amy-Eloise Neale; Seattle University's Shaddye Melu; and Eastern Washington's Paula Gil-Echevarria (above/photo illustration courtesy Eastern Washington University).

Efraimson won the USA national title in the 1500, while Gilbert won the 5000 title.  Neale finished second in the English U20 steeplechase in Bedford last month, while Gil-Echevarria won the Spanish junior title.

Melu kicks things off Tuesday night at 5:35 pm, when he runs in the first round of the 400 meters, with the semis Wednesday night at 6:45pm, and the finals Thursday at 7:45 pm.

Neale and Gil-Echevarria will compete on Thursday at 10:05 am, with the goal to advance to Saturday's finals that will be contested at 4:55 pm.

Efraimson, who was third at last year's IAAF World Youth Championships in the 1500, runs at 12:15 pm on Friday, with the goal to advance to Sunday's final at 3:55 pm.

Gilbert's 5000 meter race will be a straight final that will be contested at 8:45 pm on Friday night.

In advance of the start of competition Tuesday, IAAF president Lamine Diack spoke to the media Monday.

“It has been my dream to have an IAAF event in the USA. All through the time I have been president I have been desperate to have an event here."

“With the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland in 2016 and Eugene bidding for the 2019 World Championships, the World Junior Championships this week mark an important moment for the future of track and field in the USA, the most powerful athletics nation in the world.

“These Championships are set to be one of the biggest ever (World Junior Championships), 167 IAAF Member Federations have entered. With a total of 1540 athletes - 829 men and 711 women – Eugene will be the largest ever age-group championship held outside Europe"

TrackTown USA president and former Oregon head coach Vin Lananna said the 1540 athletes will perform in front of the most passionate and knowledgable fans in America. "Hayward Field (the Championships stadium) has often been referred to as the Carnegie Hall of track and field, a place where special things happen and, because it is the first World Junior Championships held in the United States, we expect history to be made."

If you can't make the drive down to Eugene, Universal Sports and will provide coverage of the meet. will be on site beginning Thursday.


According to a post by Nick Daschel on The Oregonian's web site, Alexa Efraimson will skip competing for Camas.

Efraimson has college offers from Washington, Oregon and Stanford on the table, and she tells Daschel that she's leaning towards either the Ducks or Cardinal.

However, she could forego all those offers and do what Mary Cain did, and turn pro.  

Bottom line?  "I'm going to choose the route that's going to allow me to develop the most, whether it's running with a team, or individually."

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