USA’s Marquis Dendy will head to the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 seeking redemption.
In his outstanding collegiate career, Dendy achieved three consecutive NCAA horizontal jumps doubles between 2014 and 2015. After winning the third of those doubles last year, he turned professional and qualified to represent the USA in both events at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.
But that’s where the fairy-tale story ends. He failed to make it out of the qualifying rounds of both events in the Chinese capital, jumping 7.78m and 16.73m – some way off the 8.39m and 17.50m PBs he set earlier in the year.
With that experience as his motivation throughout the winter, Dendy has been in superb form in 2016. The 23-year-old has won all of his competitions and most recently took the US indoor title with a world-leading 8.41m. And with the World Indoors on home soil, he will feel more at home than he did in Beijing last year.
The recent withdrawal of world and Olympic champion Greg Rutherford and the non-participation of defending champion Mauro da Silva has made Dendy’s task slightly easier, but there are still several other genuine contenders for the title.
World silver medallist Fabrice Lapierre knows how it feels to stand on top of the podium at the World Indoor Championships, having won the title in 2010. The Australian had a shocker of a season opener at the IAAF World Indoor Tour meeting in Stockholm as he failed to register a single valid mark, but some of his attempts were long. His only other competition this winter was in Glasgow where he jumped 8.08m.
Kafetien Gomis will be the oldest athlete in the field, but with age comes experience. The 35-year-old from France has twice been a medallist at the European Championships, and last month he won the French indoor title with an indoor PB of 8.23m, just three centimetres shy of the lifetime best he set outdoors last year.
With three athletes in the top five, the long jump proved to be one of China’s best events at the World Championships last year. World bronze medallist Wang Jianan, still just 19, is entered for Portland, so too is Huang Changzhou, the 21-year-old who has twice beaten Wang in recent weeks, setting PBs of 8.18m and 8.19m.
Pan-American champion Jeff Henderson joins Dendy on the US team and, like his teammate, may feel as though he has something to prove after last year’s World Championships. He led the qualifying round with a leap of 8.36m but in the final he could only manage 7.95m to finish ninth.
But perhaps it is a good omen that the last time the World Indoor Championships was held in the USA, the men’s long jump title was won by the host nation. Dendy and Henderson will therefore be looking to follow in the footsteps of 1987 winner Larry Myricks.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF