Home Olympic Ronnie Baker, Tori Franklin among stars competing at nationals

Ronnie Baker, Tori Franklin among stars competing at nationals

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USA track stars are ready to set records in Des Moines this week
John Naughton, jnaughton@dmreg.com

DES MOINES — Olympians, world champs and record-breakers will be in town for the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships starting Thursday.

Several of the top performers appeared at a press conference with media Wednesday to share stories about putting Des Moines on the world stage — and to share a little insight about themselves.

Ronnie Baker is in the discussion for the ‘World’s Fastest Man’ title

Since world record-holder Usain Bolt retired last year, sprinters have scrambled to claim  the “World’s Fastest” title.

Baker has run the 100-meter dash in the 9.93 seconds and is in consideration for the crown.

“Everyone’s looking for the next guy,” Baker said. “I’m just lucky to be in that conversation.”

Bolt holds the world’s best mark of 9.58 in the 100 meters and 19.19 in the 200.

Baker, a former TCU sprinter who has competed at Drake Stadium before, is aiming for a lofty position.

“That’s kind of my goal, to be the fastest man in the world,” Baker said.

Tori Franklin loves competing, and loves her music

Franklin, who owns the world record in the women’s triple jump with a leap of 48 feet,  8¼ inches, said moving to music keeps her loose and ready to compete.

“If you watch me, I’m dancing on the runway for like an hour,” Franklin said. “Dancing releases some kind of nerves.”

She said she’s eager to see friends and family from the Midwest on hand to watch her.

Franklin is from Illinois and attended Michigan State.

Rappin’ Robby? He may not be ready for that album to drop

Robby Andrews is a music-lover, too, but he admits his voice isn’t quite good enough to start a career in singing.

Appearing in a city known for producing Tionne Watkins — also known as T-Boz from the vocal group TLC — Andrews said he always wanted to be a singer. But he never had the voice.

He was asked by a fellow track star about what kind of style of music he’d like to sing.

“I’d be a rapper, for sure,” Andrews said.

Andrews has appeared in Des Moines before — on the track. He competed in the NCAA championships for Virginia in 2011.

Athletes remember history from 50 years ago

Kori Carter knows the history of her sport. Fifty years after the one of the most eventful track Olympics ever, she recounted the legacy of the 1968 Mexico City games.

Sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos bowed their heads and raised fists to bring attention to civil rights.

Dick Fosbury won the high jump while bringing innovation to the event. When most jumpers attacked the bar facing it, the “Fosbury Flop” had the former Drake Relays competitor going over it backwards.

Many of the athletes who competed for the United States had ties to the Drake Relays.

Their success and inspiration still own a place in the sport’s history.

“I think we’re all appreciative of what they did,” Carter said.

Athletes who have run on the Blue Oval are ready to enjoy the experience again

Keni Harrison owns the U.S. record of 12.20 seconds in the women’s 100-meter hurdles. She’s one of the athletes looking forward to taking advantage of the Drake Stadium atmosphere this week.

“The track here is really fast,” Harrison said. “I’ve run here a couple of times for the Drake Relays, and every single time, I do really well.”

Athletes credit the enthusiastic fans as a vehicle for producing great performances.

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