U.S. sending very powerful team to Rio, says expert

Mon Jul 11, 2016 4:40pm EDT
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By Gene Cherry

EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - The United States will field a powerhouse athletics team for next month's Rio Olympics even though several big names crashed out in the just-completed American trials.

Five reigning Olympic champions -- and a total of 10 athletes with the best performances in the world in their specialties -- were named on Monday to a 127-member U.S. team for the Aug 5-21 Games.

"It's one of the strongest ever," respected international athletics expert Mel Watman told Reuters via email.

"They could well exceed the nine gold medals obtained at the London Olympics of 2012."

Decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton, triple jumper Christian Taylor, pole vaulter Jenn Suhr and long jumper Brittney Reese all will be back for a shot at a second gold with Allyson Felix, the London 200 meters champion, going for gold in the 400.

All five except Suhr have the best marks in the world this year in their events, along with sprinters Justin Gatlin (100m) and LaShawn Merritt (200 and 400 meters), long jumper Jarrion Lawson, shot putter Joe Kovacs, high jumper Chaunte Lowe and 400 meters hurdler Dalilah Muhammad.

"I am very impressed with the world leading marks for 2016 set at this stage of the season," said Watman.

"The results from the trials in so many events will cause much anxiety among non-U.S. athletes."   Continued...

Jul 10, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; Simone Biles from Spring, TX, during the uneven bars in the women's gymnastics U.S. Olympic team trials at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports