USA

Athletics in the USA
Even though athletics - or track and field as it's known in the United States, is way behind the likes of Baseball, Basketball, Ice Hockey and American Football, the country has still won a staggering number of global medals at major championships with a total that will exceed 1000 during the 2012 Olympic Games.

One of the first true 'legends' of US Athletics was Jesse Owens, who won four golds at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Al Oerter went into the record books in 1968 as he won his fourth consecutive Olympic gold in the same individual event (the Discus). There have been numerous other American greats including 400m Hurdler Ed Moses (who famously won 122 races over nearly a decade), Michael Johnson (dominated both 200m and 400m during the 1990s and broke both World Records) and Jackie-Joyner Kersee (almost unbeatable in the Hepathlon and Long Jump - still holds the Heptathlon WR of 7,291pts).



Magical Moment

There can be only one. In the altitude of Mexico City at the 1968 Olympic Games on 18 October, Bob Beamon jumped an astonishing 8.90m to improve the World Record by 55cm. Everything about the jump was perfect, including the wind that was precisely on the legal limit of 2.0m/s. This record stood for almost 23 years until fellow American Mike Powell set new figures of 8.95m in Tokyo at the 1991 World Championships. Beamon's jump has since become one of the most incredible and well-known sporting feats of the modern era.


Current Stars

America's strong events have traditionally been the sprints and jumps and this is relfected in their current star names. Tyson Gay is a genuine threat to Usain Bolt over both 100m and 200m, while Carmelita Jeter won two golds (100m and 4x100m) and a silver (200m) at the 2011 World Champs, taking a further three medals at the 2012 Olympics. Allyson Felix has won a huge total of eight golds at World Championships, making her the equal most successful athlete in the history of the event. She went on to win three golds at London 2012. Ashton Eaton has emerged as the best Decathlete on the planet and improved the World Record mark in 2012.


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