12 Team USA Athletes to Watch Before the 2011 World Championships

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12 Team USA Athletes to Watch Before the 2011 World Championships
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The last time South Korea hosted a full-scale sporting event this big, it was the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Six years old at the time, that was not only my introduction to the spectacle that is the Olympics, but also to track and field. That was when Florence Griffith-Joyner set the world record in the women's 200-meter dash and the Olympic record in the 100, then added two more medals in the sprint relays. Ben Johnson upset track's biggest superstar, Carl Lewis, in the men's 100 in world-record time—but days later was stripped of the record and the gold medal in a steroids scandal. Jackie Joyner-Kersee broke the heptathlon world record, and Edwin Moses' bronze-medal finish in the men's 400 hurdles was only his second loss in a 134-race stretch.

Twenty-three summers later, South Korea will host the 2011 World Championships of track and field in Daegu, and the stage is being set for history once again. Usain Bolt, the new Carl Lewis, is expected to challenge his own world-record times in the 100 and 200, Allyson Felix is setting herself up to become the first woman to win gold in the 200 and 400 at the same World Championships meet and others are looking to make their name at the most significant track meet before the 2012 Olympics in London.

With the World Championships still two months away, and the USA Outdoor Championships—the country's qualifying event for Daegu—taking place this week, here are a dozen Team USA athletes to watch throughout the summer:

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