COLLEGE STATION -- With the 11th edition of the World Outdoor Championships set to begin later this month, Texas A&M track and field head coach Pat Henry departed Monday, Aug. 13, on a long journey to Osaka, Japan, where he will serve as head men's coach for Team USA.
Competition for the IAAF World Championships will take place from Aug. 25 to Sept. 2 in Nagai Stadium. The event will host nearly 1,700 athletes from 200 countries. Coverage of the meet will be available on NBC as well as the Versus network. NBC will offer weekend telecasts while Versus supplies a two-hour broadcast block each day.
The U.S. squad Henry will lead includes two 2004 Olympic individual champions (Jeremy Wariner, 400; and Dwight Phillips, long jump) along with seven defending World champions. Currently seven members of the U.S. men's team have world leading marks for the 2007 season as well as both relays.
"I'm really looking forward to the competition," Henry noted. "This is a different experience from putting together a collegiate team. We're organizing around 70 men in this group, with only two or three collegians and the rest being professional athletes. Plus they're spread out all of the world and this country, so the organization is extensive."
The international coaching experience for Henry in Japan follows his previous head coaching duties during the 2000 World Junior Championships in Santiago, Chile, and the NACAC Under-23 Championships in Monterrey, Mexico, as well as the 2006 World Cup in Athens, Greece.
In addition to Coach Henry heading the U.S. men's coaching staff in Osaka, three Aggies will take part in the World Championships as well. Current A&M athletes Richard Adu-Bobie (Canada) and Simone Facey (Jamaica) are part of the 4 x 100 relay pool for their respective countries as is former student Tyrone Edgar (United Kingdom).
The U.S. men's team, which was finalized today, totals 70 athletes. Highlights this summer from some of the team members include American records for Breaux Greer in the javelin (299-6), Matt Tegenkamp in the two-mile (8:07.07), and Alan Webb in the mile (3:46.91).
Other strong performances included a double sprint title (9.84/19.62) claimed by Tyson Gay at the U.S. Championships and the recently-run 43.50 by Wariner to win the 400 at the DN Galan Grand Prix meet in Stockholm. The time recorded by Wariner, which equals the third-fastest ever performer, is the fastest time in the world since 1999 when Michael Johnson established the world record of 43.18.
"We've have some great performances by Americans over the summer," Henry said. "It will be interesting to see who can put it on the track and really get it done when the pressure is on. The pressure is on at the World Championships."
A training camp and a small tune-up meet will preclude the start of the World Championship meet.
"We head over about 10 days early ahead of the competition and have a training camp," explained Henry. "The key right now is making sure we have personnel who are healthy. Going through three rounds of anything is a tough job.
"There will be an 8 to 10-event meet prior to the World Championships, which will be pretty limited. Most athletes are pretty well prepared at this point. The only preparation things you have as an athlete now is making sure you're completely healthy."
While the 2005 version of the World Championship meet was held amid rainy days and nights in Helsinki, Finland, weather has turned hot and humid in Osaka for this edition. Temperatures increased near 100 degrees this past weekend in the host city.
"Very similar to the conditions we experience in Texas during this time of the year is what we anticipate we will have in Osaka," said Henry. "The elements always bring something to the competition."