Portland 2016: Indoor world championships come to Oregon

The world's best track and field athletes are competing in Portland at the IAAF World Indoor Championships. (Photo: Anthony Kustura)

PORTLAND, Ore. - Track Town USA relocated up north to Portland - for now.

It's all for the 2016 World Indoor Track & Field championships hosted by IAAF, Tracktown USA and USA Track & Field.

"I genuinely believe this will be the reawakening of track and field in this country," IAAF President Sebastian Coe said.

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Coe along with other committee members and athletes took center stage in Portland's Pioneer Square ahead of Thursday evening's opening ceremonies.

Runners, jumpers and throwers from more than 140 countries are competing.

"I'm excited to show our friends, competitors and everyone else who's a visitor that this is a cool place." said Olympic athlete and University of Oregon graduate Ashton Eaton.

It's been nearly 30 years since an event of this size has been hosted in the United States.

"It almost feels surreal that this is happening in our backyard because we never get that - we always have to go to Europe or somewhere else," said Brianne Theisen-Eaton, a 3-time World Silver Medalist and Canadian heptathlete.

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"Eugene can't be the only place that hosts everything, even though we feel that it's the center of where track and field is in the United States," said Track Town USA President Vin Lananna.

Amid scandals of doping runners recently, leaders say it's been a rough three years of planning to get to this point.

"Our sport is still strong," Coe said. "That's not to deny it's had some really dark, challenging days."

For now, they're just excited for the 4-day event.

"Bravo! Well done and let the races begin." Said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

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