OTC Elite athletes eye World Championships

Oregon Track Club Elite's Lauren Johnson needs to hit the qualifying standard of 4:06.50 in the women's 1500 meters to secure a spot on Team USA for the 2015 IAAF World Championships August 22-30 in Beijing. (TrackTown photo by Phil Johnson)

EUGENE, Ore. – Six athletes from Oregon Track Club Elite have already punched their tickets to the 2015 IAAF World Championships, Aug. 22-30, in Beijing.

Three others are hoping to join the travel party.

As reigning 2013 World Champions, Team USA’s Ashton Eaton (decathlon) and Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman (800m) were guaranteed wild-card berths into the meet.

Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton, meanwhile, only needed to show fitness at the Canadian National Championships to secure her spot in the heptathlon. She did that by winning the 100m hurdles and taking second in the long jump.

Two other OTC Elite athletes – Hassan Mead and Jesse Williams – earned their spots on the Team USA roster by placing third in the 10,000m and high jump, respectively, at the USATF Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field in June.

Perhaps the most unconventional path to the IAAF World Championships was taken by OTC Elite’s Aisha Praught, who grew up in Moline, Ill., and competed at Illinois State. She recently acquired Jamaican citizenship – her birth father is Jamaican – and she will represent the sprint-crazed country in the 3,000m steeplechase.

Three other OTC Elite athletes looking to book their trips to the IAAF World Championships still have work to do – Lauren Johnson in the 1,500m for Team USA, Tom Farrell in the 5,000m for Great Britain and Sally Kipyego in the 10,000m for Kenya.

Johnson, who clocked her 1,500m PR of 4 minutes, 7.33 seconds at the Portland Track Festival on June 14, needs to run the qualifying standard of 4:06.50 to make the U.S. team. Her best bet will be July 18 at the KBC Night of Athletics in Heusden, Belgium.

“(Lauren) has to take her opportunity,” OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said. “That will probably be her best option. It doesn’t get any better.”

Kipyego, a silver medalist in the 10,000m at the 2012 Olympic Games and 2011 World Championships, will compete in the Kenyan Trials at the end of this month.

Farrell, the reigning 5,000m champion for Great Britain, has to run another qualifying time in that race to confirm his selection. He is entered in the 5,000m at the KBC Night of Athletics in Heusden.