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Olympians Richards, Williams and Hurd have points to prove at USA Track & Field National Championships

19 June 2006
www.world-track.org

USATF's world class track athletes will converge on Indianapolis this weekend for the 2006 USA Track & Field Outdoor National Championships, but three have points to prove, messages to deliver and titles to capture - enter Sanya Richards, Lauryn Williams and Tiombé Hurd.

Austin, Texas' Sanya Richards has been shooting across the track in remarkable speed this season, hence her nickname "The Bullet", clocking the fastest time in the world this year at 400m with her 49.82 in Oslo, Norway earlier this month.

She's undefeated at this distance in 2006 and defending her national championship title is on her agenda this weekend. Richards is also looking to lay claim to a 200m national championship title as well. She recorded the third fastest time in the outdoor season to date in Gateshead, Great Britain at her last event. 22.25 seconds brought her a first place finish. It is the fastest time of any American woman this year.

"I feel like I am in the best shape ever," says Richards. "I'm looking forward to getting on the track this weekend. The National Championships always bring out the best in everyone."

Richards will also be defending her Outdoor Visa Championship title. Last year she ran away with $25,000 in prize money for her outstanding performances over the 5-event series. This year $100,000 awaits the new champion and Richards has a very good chance to capture the title again; she's only 11 points out of the lead.

Sub-11 is what Lauryn Williams is looking for this weekend. It would mean a return to her usual performance and $1000 to one lucky young college-bound female athlete. This year Williams pledged $1000 to her scholarship fund - the Lauryn Williams Dynamic Female Athlete Scholarship Fund - for every sub-11 race she runs in 2006. She plans for the national championships to be the start of a streak of such results. A respiratory illness early on this season caused her to withdraw from one competition and affected her performance in others.

The big races are what counts and the 22-year old has proven that she's always up for those. An Olympic silver medal, a world championship title, and running the fast time at 60m in 2006 - 7.01 - has earned her the moniker "the fastest woman in the world". Williams is anxious to reiterate why that title was bestowed on her.

Could a 7th national championship title be in the pit for Tiombé Hurd? Her 2006 results seem to say so. Hurd, the 2006 Indoor Triple Jump National Champion and the American Record holder with a 14.45m jump, spent the early weeks of the 2006 outdoor season in Europe, preparing for this event. She jumped to 6 first place finishes during that time. In February, Hurd easily jumped to the indoor national title and is looking for similar results on Thursday.

Before the championships begin, Hurd will join several other athletes at the NCAA Hall of Champions for the USATF's Be a Champion program. At 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 20th Hurd will interact with approximately 150 middle school aged children, advocating healthy living, physical activity and saying no to drugs. It's the program's objective and the athletes have a great time supporting it.

"I am excited about being a part of USA Track & Field's Be A Champion program," says Hurd. "With so many kids spending several hours a day playing video games and watching TV, I think it's important to emphasize the value of being physically active. Getting involved in sports is a great way to teach children social skills and teamwork as well as help fight the growing epidemic of obesity in young children. Even if they do not eventually pursue competitive sports in the future, reaching out to them at a young age is the first step to helping them lead a healthier lifestyle. However, you never know, we might just meet a few of our future Olympians."



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