World-Class Athletes Headline Portland 2016 Countdown Celebration / by Scott Bush

PORTLAND, Ore. – Fifteen of the world’s greatest track and field athletes will headline a star-studded lineup of Olympic gold medalists, world record-holders and World Champions at the Portland 2016 Countdown Celebration on Wednesday, May 27 from 3-7 p.m. at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Over the course of their professional careers, this illustrious group has combined to establish seven world records and compete in 18 Olympic Games, ranging from the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney to the 2012 Olympics in London. During that span, they collected three gold medals and one silver medal.

At the IAAF World Championships, indoors and outdoors, they have earned a total of 34 medals, including 15 gold medals. In all, these 15 athletes have made nearly 50 appearances on IAAF global stages.

Clearly, you will not want to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and hear from these highly decorated athletes as they speak about the growing excitement for the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships to be held March 17-20 in Portland, the first time in nearly 30 years, and only the second time ever, on U.S. soil.

Who are they?

From Team USA, which will enjoy a rare home field advantage at the two Portland venues – the four-day meet kicks off at the Moda Center with the men’s and women’s pole vault on March 17, followed by three days of competition in a temporary 7,000-seat stadium in the Oregon Convention Center – are Bernard Lagat, Aries Merritt, Andrew Wheating, Elijah Greer, Ben Blankenship and Jordan McNamara. Lagat has won medals in 13 World Championships and Olympics, Merritt is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 110m hurdles and University of Oregon alum Wheating is a two-time Olympian. Wheating, Blankenship, Greer and McNamara all compete for Eugene-based Oregon Track Club Elite.

The international lineup features: Renaud Lavillenie (France, pole vault, world record-holder); Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia, distance, world indoor record-holder in four events from 1,500m to 5,000m); Liu Xiang (China, 110mH, 2004 Olympic gold medalist, retired); Eunice Sum(Kenya, 800m, reigning WC); Silas Kiplagat (Kenya, mile, #1 world ranking); and Ivana Spanovic (Serbia, long jump, #2 world ranking).

In addition, three global athletes who are members of OTC Elite will be on hand: Sally Kipyego (Kenya, distances, 2012 Olympic silver medalist); Mohammad Aman (Ethiopia, 800m, 3-time WC) and Sheila Reid (Canada, middle distance/distance, 2012 Olympian).

The Portland 2016 Countdown Celebration will also include the public unveiling of the City of Portland-sponsored Countdown Clock, a chance to purchase all-session tickets one day in advance of the public ticket launch on May 28, appearances by local and visiting dignitaries, live music, food, beverages, youth activities, photo and autograph opportunities.

So, don’t delay. Mark your calendar to be at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland on Wednesday, May 27 from 3-7 p.m. to meet world-class athletes and take part in a celebration of the sport of track and field.

For more information, visit Portland2016.com.