2017 Pre Meet Athletes

2017 DATE: May 26-27
 2017 EVENTS:

5000 METERS*
1500 METERS*

Joan Benoit Samuelson the Star of a Special Night at Pre Classic

            Eugene, Oregon – Joan Benoit Samuelson earned ever-lasting fame as the first Olympic gold medalist in the women’s marathon.  The Prefontaine Classic will recognize her historic running accomplishments and pioneering spirit with a night of incredible talent on Friday, May 26th.

            Joan Benoit Samuelson Night is a tribute to a special athlete who broke barriers and remains an inspiration for women runners, especially in the U.S.  Joan will be in attendance at Hayward Field to witness the events held in her name.
            These include elite international and national fields on a night dedicated to women in track & field:
  • High School Girls 200
  • Women’s 800 (National)
  • Women’s 1500 (National)
  • Women’s Steeplechase
  • Women’s 5000
  • Women’s Long Jump (IAAF Diamond League)
  • Women’s Javelin (IAAF Diamond League)
           All of Friday’s portion of the Prefontaine Classic is again free, thanks to longtime sponsor, NIKE. 
            Samuelson was known as Joan Benoit when her career found barrier-breaking success in August 1976.  After a freshman year at Bowdoin College, she won the Falmouth Road Race 7-miler in a meet record by over a minute.  The men’s winner was marathoner Frank Shorter, whose Olympic gold medal win in Munich inspired the creation of the race, soon to become the most prestigious road event in New England outside of the Boston Marathon (Joan would eventually win it six times, the most by a woman).  A year later, Samuelson was the youngest competitor in the first U.S. women’s 10k track championship, finishing 6th.

            More barriers came down in 1979.  In her first competitive marathon, Samuelson famously wore a Red Sox baseball cap backwards and won the Boston Marathon with an American record by almost 3 minutes.  It was her senior year at Bowdoin and a month later she won the national collegiate 10k crown in record time, clear of anyone by over 40 seconds.

            She would dominate often for Athletics West, including a 2:26:11 American record at the Nike/Oregon Track Club Marathon in Eugene in September 1982.  Her second Boston victory in 1983 was jaw-dropping, winning by over 7 minutes with her first world best in 2:22:43.  Boston would not see a faster time until 28 years later.

            Still, Samuelson’s most magical miles were ahead of her.  She qualified for her only Olympic team in May 1984 just 17 days after arthroscopic knee surgery performed by renowned surgeon, Dr. Stan James.  On August 5, she entered the Los Angeles Coliseum to a thunderous roar, the first woman to win an Olympic distance longer than 3000 meters.  A year later she lowered her American record to 2:21:21, a mark that only two Americans have bettered in 30-plus years.

            Samuelson has continued involvement in the sport, even running a sub-2:50 marathon at age 50 in the 2008 Olympic Trials in Boston and participating in the Boston Marathon as recently as 2015.  (Joanie, who will turn 60 on May 16, has a stated goal to run a sub-3:00 marathon at age 60.)  Back in 1998, she founded the TD Beach to Beacon 10K as a way to give back to the sport.  Held on the first Saturday in August in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, it now attracts over 6000 runners and promotes and celebrates health, fitness and giving back.  It is one of the most popular races in the U.S., and the field fills up in a few minutes each year.  With the motto, “Shine the Light on Kids”, the race benefits a different children's charity each year.  The B2B will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2017.

May 23, 2017
For Immediate Release 

LaShawn Merritt Challenged by New Talent in Pre Classic 400

(The 43rd Prefontaine Classic, a member of the IAAF Diamond League of elite international track & field meets, will be held May 26-27, 2017 at historic Hayward Field.)
            Eugene, Oregon – LaShawn Merritt has won an unprecedented five times in the Prefontaine Classic 400, but this year’s 1-lapper has exciting fresh talent ready to challenge him.

            It will be a Pre Classic debut for half the field and two who will compete in the U.S. for the first time are the fastest teenage runners this century.
            LaShawn Merritt, 30, knows about running as a new talent, and even beating a few.  He was only 19 when he won his first major gold, the World Indoor 400 in 2006.  A decade later, Merritt owns 12 major gold medals – three in the Olympics, and his last in Rio featured an unpressured 43.97 anchor split for the U.S. 4 x 400 team.

            Merritt has run faster than that from the blocks six times, topped by a 43.65.  But 43.97 is his fastest at Hayward Field, first achieved in the memorable 2014 Pre Classic and then again in last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials – becoming the first three-time winner in that event.

            Still, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist and top-ranked American by Track & Field News since 2011 was not done.  Merritt earned 2nd in the Trials 200 (his first attempt at the distance in a U.S. championships) and in Rio was the only American in the final. He finished the year as T&FN’s top-ranked American, the first man in both the 200 and 400 since Michael Johnson in 1996.
In addition to his fistful of Pre Classic 400 titles, Merritt can also claim one in the 300, where he has the meet’s fastest time ever.
            Karabo Sibanda, 18, is as new a talent as they come and one of four to make his Pre Classic debut.  He was 5th in Rio – the youngest-ever finalist in this event – running 44.25 that is amazingly only No. 3 on the Botswana all-time list.  It also puts him No. 3 on the world Junior (U20) all-time list, but only No. 2 from the southern African country which is now a major force in the event.  Sibanda is still eligible for Junior records – the world standard is 43.87, set by American Steve Lewis in winning the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

            Botswana teammate Baboloki Thebe was only 19 when he ran his first known 400 race in the prelims of his national championships last year in Gaborone. Later that day he shaved nearly three seconds off his best and ran 44.22, beating Sibanda by over a second.  The African Championships gold medalist last summer ran in Rio, but didn’t start his semifinal due to injury.  Now 20, he had the fastest split on the second-place team in last month’s World Relays 4x400, a squad that ran 2:59.05 in Rio without him.  This will be his first race in the U.S.
            Luguelin Santos, 24, is the Dominican Republic’s fastest ever at 44.11, and second best in the field.  Before Rio, he was the youngest ever Olympic finalist in this event, claiming silver at the 2012 London Games as an 18-year-old.  A year later he earned silver at the Moscow World Championships.  His list of gold medals includes the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010.
            Pavel Maslak, 26, of the Czech Republic won the last two World Indoor titles as well as the last three European Indoor crowns.  He was silver medalist in last summer’s European Championships, where he won gold in 2012.

            Matthew Hudson-Smith, 22, was a Rio finalist, running his two fastest ever times on the blue Brazilian oval, topped by a 44.48 in the semifinals.  This will be the British champ’s first Pre Classic.

            Tony McQuay, 27, is regularly a blazing runner on the U.S. 4x400 team, clocking splits of 43.41 and 43.5 in the last two Olympics.  A sub-45 runner every year since his junior season at Florida in 2011 (a double NCAA champ in 2012), McQuay has three major golds, all in the 4x400 – the last two World Championships in addition to last year’s gold.

            Vernon Norwood, 25, anchored last year’s Team USA gold-medal 4x400 team in the World Indoor Championships in Portland.  A former NCAA indoor and outdoor champ at LSU, he won the Millrose Games 500 indoors in February at 1:00.11, third fastest ever.  This will be Norwood’s first Pre Classic.
Men’s 400 MetersPersonal Best
LaShawn Merritt (USA)43.65 
Luguelin Santos (Dominican Republic)44.11 
Baboloki Thebe (Botswana)44.22 
Tony McQuay (USA)44.24 
Karabo Sibanda (Botswana)44.25 
Vernon Norwood (USA)44.44 
Matthew Hudson-Smith (Great Britain)44.48 
Pavel Maslak (Czech Republic)44.79 

May 18, 2017
For Immediate Release 

Mo Farah Tops a Pre Classic 5K Packed with Medalists

(The 43rd Prefontaine Classic, a member of the IAAF Diamond League of elite international track & field meets, will be held May 26-27, 2017 at historic Hayward Field.)
            Eugene, Oregon – A remarkable collection of the world’s best distance runners in the Prefontaine Classic 5000 Meters will provide a preview of the London World Championships final this summer.

            More than half the field own an Olympic or World Championships medal in events also including the 10k, steeplechase, half-marathon and cross-country.

            The 5k – the favorite race distance of Steve Prefontaine – has plenty of talent on its own, beginning with every Olympic medalist from Rio.
            Mo Farah, 34, of Great Britain now has nine major gold medals – four in the Olympics and five in the World Championships, and eight from an uncanny collection of double 5k/10k wins at the last two Olympics and last two World Championships.  He is aiming for another such double at this summer’s London Worlds.

            Farah’s success at the Pre Classic mirrors his other global success.  He has racked up four Pre Classic victories – the still-standing 5k meet record of 12:56.98 in 2012, plus three wins in the 10k (the three fastest of his career).

            The most decorated British athlete yet, his range includes being the fastest British 1500-meter runner (3:28.81) and second fastest in his only marathon (2:08:21).
            Paul Chelimo, 26, was the surprise silver medalist in Rio.  Having earned U.S. eligibility just a year earlier, he made history with the first Olympic 5k medal by an American since Bob Schul won the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.  Chelimo was the only runner challenging Farah on the homestretch in Rio, and his 13:03.90 was a PR by over 15 seconds.

            Hagos Gebrhiwet, 23, already has three major medals – his Rio Olympic bronze adding to the silver he won in the 2013 Moscow World Championships and the bronze in Beijing.  In 2012, he set the still-standing world Junior record of 12:47.53 – still his PR and the best of anyone in this year’s field.

            At 19, Yomif Kejelcha has already raced to unprecedented history, and twice it was at Hayward Field.  At 16, he was the youngest winner ever in this event at the World Junior Championships in 2014, held at Hayward Field.  In 2015 he made his biggest splash, winning the Pre Classic and becoming the youngest 5K winner by four years.  A fantastic season saw him winning the IAAF Diamond League as well.

            Wisconsin alum Mohammed Ahmed, 26, is the fastest in the world thus far at 13:04.60, set indoors in February.  Earlier this month, the Canadian lowered his 10k PR by over half a minute to 27:30.00 at the Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford.  Ahmed was 4th in the Rio 5k, his country’s best finish in the event.  He was third in last year’s Pre Classic 5k with a PR 13:01.74.

            Geoffrey Kamworor, 24, has the most major golds of anyone in the field except Farah.  In March, the Kenyan won his second World Cross Country crown.  Last year he won his second World Half-Marathon title.  On the track, he has run PRs in all three of his appearances at the Pre Classic, including last year’s runner-up finish at 12:59:98.

            Olympic steeplechase gold medalist Conseslus Kipruto, 22, won his first Pre Classic in 2013 at age 18.  It was then a meet record 8:03.59.  His venture this year into the 5k will be the first since his only known attempt at the distance, 13:47.5 in the high altitude of Eldoret in Kenya

            Second-fastest in the field is Isiah Koech at 12:48.64.  Koech was the bronze medalist in the 2013 Moscow World Championships and has four top-8 finishes in the World Championships and Olympic Games. He is still only 23 years old.

            Joshua Cheptagei, 20, of Uganda was only 19 when he finished 6th in the Rio 10k and 5th in the 5k – a combination bettered only by Farah.  He has recorded PRs many times already at Hayward Field, starting with a World Junior 10k gold in 2014.

            Albert Rop, 24, will be running in his sixth Pre Classic.  Born in Kenya, his 7th place finish in the Rio 5k is best ever for Bahrain in this event.

            Andrew Butchart, 25, was Britain’s fastest last year besides Farah and finished 6th in the Rio 5k.  This year, he has already set a PR by some seven seconds in the 1500, and his first attempt in the mile in early February was a world-leading 3:54.23.

            Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku, 24, earned the silver medal in the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.  The Kenyan won the Pre Classic 5k in 2014, the year he also won the Diamond League title.  In his first Pre Classic appearance in 2011, Ndiku joined the sub-3:50 club with a 3:49.77 in the Bowerman Mile.  It is still his fastest mile ever.

            Americans will provide a special mix in addition to Chelimo.

            Ryan Hill, 27, was silver medalist in the World Indoor 3k in Portland in 2016. He was runner-up in the NCAA indoor mile for North Carolina State in 2013.

            Ben True, 31, has finished as high as 6th in the World Championships 5k (2015) and World Cross Country Championships (2013).  Last August, he became the first American man or woman to win the Beach to Beacon 10k, the race started by Joan Benoit Samuelson in 1998. At 13:02.74 he’s the ninth-fastest American ever.

            Also in the all-time U.S. top 10 is Hassan Mead, 25, who was 11th in the Rio 5k and also a finalist in the 2015 World Championships.

            Eric Jenkins, 25, won NCAA titles for Oregon in 2015 indoors in the 3k and 5k.  He won his first attempt this winter at the famous Wanamaker Mile in the Millrose Games in February, followed by a best-ever 5k at the end of the month.  Is he still in shape?  Earlier this month at Stanford, he scored a PR in the 800 and less than hour later ran his second-fastest 1500 ever!

Men’s 5000 MetersPersonal Best
Hagos Gebrhiwet (Ethiopia)12:47.53 
Isiah Kiplangat Koech (Kenya)12:48.64 
Albert Rop (Bahrain)12:51.96 
Mo Farah (Great Britain)12:53.11 
Yomif Kejelcha (Ethiopia)12:53.98 
Paul Kipngetich Tanui (Kenya)12:58.69 
Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku (Kenya)12:59.17 
Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya)12:59.98 
Joshua Cheptagei (Uganda)13:00.60 
Mohammed Ahmed (Canada)13:01.74 
Ben True (USA)13:02.74 
Hassan Mead (USA)13:02.80 
Ibrihim Jeilan (Ethiopia)13:03.22 
Paul Chelimo (USA)13:03.90 
Getaneh Tamire (Ethiopia)13:05.59 
Ryan Hill (USA)13:05.69 
Eric Jenkins (USA)13:05.85 
Bashir Abdi (Belgium)13:06.10 
Chris Derrick (USA)13:08.04 
Andrew Butchart (Great Britain)13:08.61 
Aron Kifle (Eritrea)13:13.39 
Leonard Barsoton (Kenya)13:16.25 
Nicholas Kosimbei (Kenya)13:17.08 
Jacob Kiplimo (Uganda)13:19.54 
William Malel Sitonik (Kenya)13:19.83 
Patrick Tiernan (Australia)13:20.88 
Djamal A. Direh (Djibouti)13:21.50 
Conseslus Kipruto (Kenya)13:47.5(A) 

May 16, 2017
For Immediate Release 

English Gardner at Home in Prefontaine Classic Women's 100

            Eugene, Oregon – A historically fast straightaway awaits a Prefontaine Classic women’s 100 field loaded with Olympians, but one runner knows the track better than anyone else.
            English Gardner, 25, might want to run every major race at the Pre Classic, though a growing list of defeated rivals would prefer otherwise.  Her success on her former home track at historic Hayward Field is unmatched at the Pre Classic in the sprints: wins over women who won the last three Olympic gold medals in the 100 meters.

            The Oregon alum is a thrilling straightaway runner, especially in Eugene.  She won last year’s Pre Classic over a stout field that included two-time Olympic gold medalist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, who would add bronze in Rio.  A year earlier, Gardner had rocked the house with a same-time 10.84 win over Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, the Rio gold medalist who has not lost since that 2015 Pre Classic International 100.  (Thompson, of course, is in this year's Pre Classic 200.) 

            Gardner won her second U.S. 100 title last year with a PR 10.74, the fastest of three under 10.80 on Hayward Field’s fast straightaway.  Gold medalist on the third leg of the U.S. 4 x 100 relay team in Rio, the New Jersey native enjoyed a special moment at last month’s Penn Relays as part of an 800-meter sprint medley relay that destroyed a world best set over 35 years ago by Nebraska.

            Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown will return to the Pre Classic, where she has never run anything except 10.78 – winning the 2010 edition and finishing 3rd in the wind-aided 2013 race.  The 35-year-old has an overflowing treasury of medals, with Olympic bookends in 2000 as an 18-year-old and last year in Rio, both with silver medals and three golds in the middle.

            In total, she has 21 major medals, and her Olympic total of eight is only one behind Allyson Felix and Merlene Ottey, the latter her idol while growing up and racing for the same high school, Vere Tech.  The final chapter has yet to be written – her 11.06 last month is the fastest posted by any runner in the field this season.

            Tianna Bartoletta, 31, is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the long jump and also a fantastic sprinter with a rocket start.  For the third-straight year, she will attempt a Pre Classic double that begins with a Diamond League long jump on Friday night followed by a world-class 100 Saturday afternoon.

            Last year in Rio, she jumped a lifetime best 23-5½ (7.15) to win the long jump gold and the next morning was leading off the U.S. 4 x 100 team in the heats – she would eventually earn her third Olympic gold a day later as the Americans blazed lane 1 of Rio’s blue oval in 41.01 – second only to the Bartoletta-led London Olympic world record quartet (40.82).

            Bartoletta’s 2015 Pre Classic long jump win was the second-farthest in meet history, a wind-aided 23-4 (7.11).  After a runner-up finish in last year’s stacked Pre Classic 100, she was second in the historic U.S. Olympic Trials race at 10.78 that saw three break 10.80 in the same race for the first time.
            Michelle-Lee Ahye, 25, is Trinidad’s second fastest ever at 10.85 and was 6th in the Rio Olympic final, matching her country’s best Olympic finish in any event.  In 2015, she was 5th in the Beijing World Championships 100 and ran the backstretch leg on Trinidad’s bronze-medal 4x100 team.

            Murielle Ahoure, 29, of Cote d’Ivoire was the 2013 World Championships silver medalist in both the 100 and 200.  She dipped into sub-10.80 territory in 2016 with an African record 10.78 and was third in last year’s Pre Classic.  In 2015, she was runner-up to Fraser-Pryce in the 2015 Pre Classic as both ran 10.81.  The two-time Olympian is a former NCAA Indoor 200 champ at Miami (2009).

            Morolake Akinosun, who will turn 23 on May 17, is a former U.S. Junior champion who was 4th in last year’s famous U.S. Olympic Trials race with a PR 10.95.  She earned Olympic gold as anchor for the U.S. in the 4x100 heats.  Twice an NCAA runner-up for Texas, she was inches short of a title in 2015, her wind-aided 10.97 just behind the 10.96 of Oregon’s Jenna Prandini, who is in the 200 at this year's Pre Classic. Akinosun won the U.S. Indoor 60 crown in March.

            Dezerea Bryant, 24, is a two-time NCAA champion in the 200 for Kentucky (2015 outdoors, 2014 indoors).  Her 2015 victory at Hayward Field in 22.18 was the fastest low-altitude time ever by a U.S. collegian.  She missed most of last year to injury, but this year was runner-up to Akinosun in the U.S. Indoor 60.

            Simone Facey, 32, of Jamaica is a former NCAA 200 champ running her fastest 100s since she ran 10.95 at high altitude to win the 2008 Big 12 title for Texas A&M.  She led off the Jamaican gold medal-winning 4x100 team at the 2009 World Championships, handing off to Fraser-Pryce, who is out this season on maternity leave.  In Rio, Facey earned her first Olympic medal, running leadoff in the heats as Jamaica finished with silver.

Women’s 100 MetersPersonal Best
English Gardner (USA)10.74 
Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica)10.76 
Murielle Ahoure (Cote d’Ivoire)10.78 
Tianna Bartoletta (USA)10.78 
Michelle-Lee Ahye (Trinidad)10.85 
Morolake Akinosun (USA)10.95 
Simone Facey (Jamaica)10.95 
Dezerea Bryant (USA)11.00

May 10, 2017
For Immediate Release 

Genzebe Dibaba Targets World Record
in Pre Classic Women's 5K

            Eugene, Oregon – Genzebe Dibaba will return to the Prefontaine Classic and attempt to add the 5000-meter world record to one of the greatest collections of track achievements ever seen.

            Fittingly, the 2015 Track & Field News Woman Of The Year will be running in Friday’s portion of the meet,  a session this year dedicated to women athletes,  and named Joan Benoit Samuelson Night in honor of the American who won the first Olympic gold medal in the women’s marathon in 1984.

            Six other elite international and national women’s events will be held and – thanks to title sponsor NIKE – admission on Friday is once again free.
            Genzebe Dibaba is a fearless runner.  The 26-year-old Ethiopian often leaves pacesetters outdistanced, as she did two years ago on a perfectly warm afternoon in the Pre Classic 5k, running by herself to set the meet record of 14:19.76, more than 10 seconds faster than her nearest pursuer and the fastest ever recorded in the U.S.  It was just one of many triumphs in her racing career that includes setting the world 1500-meter record that summer at 3:50.07, breaking a mark that had stood for 22 years.

            After a sterling indoor campaign last year saw her set a World Record in the mile and win the 3000 at the World Indoor Championships in PortlandDibaba aimed at making a challenge to the 5k mark in last year’s Pre Classic, but a foot injury on the eve of her would-be debut in the 10k at Dubai in late April kept her away from racing for more than two months.  She was able to compete in Rio, earning silver for her only Olympic medal.

            This year has seen a return to her record-setting form, adding the fastest 2000 ever in February. She now has history’s fastest time indoors in six events from the 1500 to the 5k, some faster than the outdoor best.

            Genzebe is not the only Dibaba family member to be T&FN Woman of the Year or to appear at the Pre Classic.  Her older sister, Tirunesh, earned the same title in 2008, the year she set the still-standing family record of 14:11.15.  And by the way, that’s also still the World Record.  Tirunesh also has a magical history at the Pre Classic, never losing in three races – twice in the 5k and once in the 10k, in 2012.  Neither Dibaba sister has ever lost at the Prefontaine Classic.
            Lining up against Dibaba will be a half-dozen other women in last year’s T&FN world rankings, giving thought that this year’s race could also challenge last year’s depth, which saw 11 run under 15 minutes, easily the most on U.S. soil.

            Mercy Cherono, 26, of Kenya was ranked No. 4 in the world last year, matching her Olympic 5k finish.  She was silver medalist in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow and is a previous Pre Classic winner, taking the 2-mile in 2014.

            Senberi Teferi, 22, of Ethiopia was next in the Rio 5k at 5th.  In 2015 she was silver medalist in the World Championships 5k (ahead of Genzebe Dibaba) and at the World Cross Country Championships.  This will be her first race in the U.S.

            Ethiopia’s Etenesh Diro Neda, who turns 26 today (May 10), is the next-highest ranked in the field at No. 7 by T&FN, though in Rio she ran the steeple for the second straight Olympics.  She was 5th in the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 World Championships in that event and has a best of 9:14.07.

            Ethiopian Gelete Burka, 31, is no stranger to the Pre Classic.  The first woman to run sub-4 at the Pre Classic, Burka’s four victories in the 1500 are second to only Suzy Favor Hamilton’s five in meet history.  She owns gold medals in the World Indoor Championships (2008 1500) and World Cross Country Championships (2006).  Last year she was 8th in the Rio 10k and was silver medalist in the 2015 Beijing World Championships.
            Molly Huddle, 32, is the top American in the field.  Winner of both the 5k and 10k at last summer’s U.S. Olympic Trials, she chose to only contest the 10k at Rio, running an American record of 30:13.17 for 6th.  She was then the first woman to hold ARs at both distances since Shalane Flanagan in 2008.  Huddle would lose the 5k AR to Shannon Rowbury some three weeks later. (Rowbury will be running in the 1500 at Pre.)

            Other Americans in the field are Kim ConleyMarielle Hall, and Emily Sisson.  Conley, 31, made her second Olympic team last year in the 5k and is a former 10k U.S. champ.  Hall, 25, was the 2014 NCAA champ while at Texas and made last year’s Olympic team in the 10k.  The 25-year-old Sisson may the hottest of the group this year, PRing in the 5k at the Millrose Games in February before a half-marathon 68:21 debut in New York in March (2 seconds behind Huddle).  She swept the NCAA indoor and outdoor titles in 2015 for Providence and last weekend was 4th in Stanford’s Jordan Cardinal Invitational 10k at 31:32.53.
            Ethiopia’s Belaynesh Oljira, 26, was bronze medalist twice in 2013, first at the World Cross Country Championships, then at the Moscow World Championships.  Oljira, who was 5th in the London Olympic 10k, has run in the last four Pre Classics, PRing three times.

            Of the remaining entrants, only Eilish McColgan has previous Pre Classic experience.  She ran the steeple in 2014, the last year she competed in the event.  The 26-year-old two-time Olympian from Great Britain is the daughter of Liz McColgan, silver medalist in the 1988 Olympics in the 10k.

            Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi, 24, of Kenya was silver medalist in last year’s African Championships 5k. 

            Two 20-year-olds could make a big splash.  Dere Dida of Ethiopia was silver medalist in the 2015 World Junior Cross Country Championships and in January was runner-up in the Houston Half-Marathon.  Kenya’s Lilian Kasait Rengeruk was bronze medalist in the World Cross Country Championships in March.  The World Youth gold medalist at 3k in 2013 was silver medalist at the 2014 World Junior Championships at Hayward Field.  Rengeruk’s best in the 5k is 15:30.0, set last month in the high altitude of Mumias in southwestern Kenya. Altitude won't be a problem at Hayward Field, which is at 139 meters (456 feet).

Women’s 5000 MetersPersonal Best
Genzebe Dibaba (Ethiopia)14:15.41 
Senberi Teferi (Ethiopia)14:29.82 
Gelete Burka (Ethiopia)14:31.20 
Etenesh Diro Neda (Ethiopia)14:33.30 
Mercy Cherono (Kenya)14:33.95 
Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia)14:42.57 
Molly Huddle (USA)14:42.64 
Dera Dida (Ethiopia)14:42.84 
Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi (Kenya)14:47.24 
Emily Sisson (USA)15:02.10 
Eilish McColgan (Great Britain)15:05.00 
Marielle Hall (USA)15:06.05 
Kim Conley (USA)15:08.61 
Lilian Kasait Rengeruk (Kenya)15:30.0

May 8, 2017
For Immediate Release 

Once in a Century Olympic Champion Headlines Pre Classic's Bowerman Mile

            Eugene, Oregon – For the first time since his historic win in Rio, Matthew Centrowitz will return to Hayward Field to battle the world’s best in the Prefontaine Classic’s most famous race, the Bowerman Mile.

            Even on his home track, the Olympic gold medalist will need to be ready.  The Pre Classic has secured every available top miler in the world, including the man who has the most Pre Classic wins and another who has the fastest time ever achieved outside of Europe.  Three others with major medals have PRs under 3:50, a time no American has achieved in the last 10 years.
            Matthew Centrowitz, 27, will return to Hayward Field with a medal rarely seen – America's first Olympic gold in the men’s 1500 meters since Mel Sheppard’s win in London in 1908. The win capped a career year for Centrowitz who also won the World Indoor Championships in Portland in March.

            Centrowitz missed the 2016 edition of the Bowerman Mile nursing an injury but he healed and responded the next month with the fastest time in U.S. Championships history (3:34.09), then gave the world a wonderful performance in the Rio Olympics.  Leading an historically slow pace in the Olympics, he blistered the blue oval with a 50.5 last lap, leaving two previous Olympic gold medalists in his trail.

            Hayward Field is where Centrowitz forged his early career, adding his name to a long list of national championship distance runners from the University of Oregon that includes both his coach (Alberto Salazar) and father (Matt Centrowitz) – both former Pre Classic winners.
            Asbel Kiprop, 27, of Kenya remains the world’s most dominant miler, reigning for the sixth time as No. 1 in the Track & Field News world rankings, just one short of legends Hicham El Guerrouj and Noureddine Morceli, who each amassed seven.  Despite being edged out of a medal at Rio, Kiprop has the most major medals in the field – all gold, an incredible collection of four that began when he was a 19-year-old winner in Beijing in 2008.

            Kiprop is a tall, slender figure who cannot be missed – especially at the Pre Classic, where last year he claimed a record fourth Bowerman Mile title.  He is the IAAF Diamond League’s most prolific winner in this event with three, beginning with the first in 2010 and including the last two.

            Kiprop can venture into more rare Pre Classic record territory.  All of his previous eight Bowerman Miles have been run in sub-4.  One more will give him the most ever.  His slowest performance at the Pre Classic is 3:51.54.
            Elijah Manangoi, 24, of Kenya is the world 1500 leader, winning the Diamond League kickoff event in Doha.  The silver medalist in the 2015 World Championships, Manangoi has a 1500 best of 3:29.67 (equal to a 3:46.5 mile) and remains a prime talent in many events.  At last year’s Pre Classic, he was an impressive 3rd in his first U.S. appearance.  Prior to 2014, Manangoi had never recorded a recognizable time at any distance over 800 meters.  Runner-up in last year’s Kenyan Olympic Trials, he was unable to start the semis in Rio due to injury.

            American Clayton Murphy is the youngest in the field at 22 and also the fastest in the world, but in a different event.  His 1:43.60 in the 800 was part of an incredible April, winning the Mt. SAC Relays, then adding a winning 4x800 anchor at the World Relays in the Bahamas followed by a U.S. road mile crown and Drake Relays 1500 title.  His Olympic 800 bronze in Rio was the first medal by any American since Johnny Gray in 1992.  Murphy will be running his first outdoor mile on the track, but he won the NCAA 1500 Hayward Field last June, the fastest since 1987.

            Ben Blankenship, 27, earned his first U.S. team position last year and finished 8th in the Rio Olympics.  He won the International Mile at the 2015 Pre Classic and this year claimed his first U.S. title, winning the mile indoors at Albuquerque.  He is a former two-time Big Ten indoor mile champ while at Minnesota.

            New Zealand’s Nick Willis, 34, is the oldest in the field.  The bronze medalist from Rio also has one of the best war chests with two Olympic medals.  While he owns his country’s fastest 1500 (3:29.66), he is still chasing John Walker’s epic mile best of 3:49.08.

            Abdelaati Iguider, 30, of Morocco was 5th in last year’s crazy Rio finish, and he earned bronze in the Beijing World Championships, another crushing finish.  The runner-up in last year’s Pre Classic was ranked No. 2 in the world by T&FN.  He is Morocco’s third-fastest miler in history, trailing only Hicham El Guerrouj and Said Aouita, both world record setters in the 1500 meters. Iguider was the 2012 Olympic bronze medalist after earlier winning the World Indoor Championships. 

            Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat, 27, is a two-time Diamond League winner (2012 & ’14) and the only runner to rank No. 1 in the world besides Kiprop by T&FN since 2009.  Kiplagat did not make Kenya’s talented Olympic team last year, but still recorded enough effort to rank No. 10 in the world by T&FN.  This will be his seventh straight appearance in the Bowerman Mile for the 2013 winner.

            The Pre Classic meet record holder at 3:47.32, Ayanleh Souleiman, 24, of Djibouti was just 0.05 seconds from a medal in Rio last summer.  He missed last year’s Pre Classic due to injury but hopes to continue his unbeaten record at Hayward Field -- including his meet record in 2014 – which was the fastest in the world since 2007, as a record six ran sub-3:50.

            Australia’s Ryan Gregson won the first two Pre Classic International Miles, in 2010 and 2011.  Last summer he became the first Aussie finalist in the Olympics since 1976.

            The talent is endless.  Charlie Grice, 23, of Great Britain won last year’s Pre Classic International Mile.  Timothy Cheruiyot, 21, of Kenya won last year’s Diamond League final race in Brussels.  He will return to the Pre Classic, where last year he finished 3td in the International Mile.  Vincent Kibet, 26, of Kenya was 4th in last year’s Pre Classic.

            Another Kenyan returning is Bethwell Birgen, who PRed in his first two races in the Bowerman Mile.  Birgen was 3rd in a sizzling Doha 1500 earlier this month, running his fastest since 2014.
           Ronald Kwemoi of Kenya is an add to the Bowerman Mile.  Kwemoi is the Commonwealth Silver Medalist from 2014, with a Mile best of 3:52.57. He was an Olympic Games finalist at Rio. Most significantly, however, last Friday he destroyed a superb field over 3000 meters in Doha in 7:28.73, showing a turn of speed over the last 100 that will give all the other fast-finishers something to think about.

            The Bowerman Mile is named for Bill Bowerman, a legendary figure in track & field history who co-founded Nike while coaching national championship teams four times at the University of Oregon between 1962 and1970.  Among his famous pupils was Steve Prefontaine, whom he mentored during and after his career at Oregon.  Bowerman passed away at age 88 on December 24, 1999, and the Pre Classic mile  became known as the Bowerman Mile in his honor.   Since 2009, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association has awarded its highest honor “The Bowerman”, to the top collegiate male and female track & field athletes each year.
            A compilation of all Pre Classic sub-4 miles and other related statistics is available at PreClassicMiles.  Among the spectacular numbers, how about 374 total sub-4s by 179 different runners from 22 nations!

Men’s Bowerman MilePersonal Best
Ayanleh Souleiman (Djibouti)3:47.32 
Silas Kiplagat (Kenya)3:47.88 
Asbel Kiprop (Kenya)3:48.50 
Abdelaati Iguider (Morocco)3:49.09 
Nick Willis (New Zealand)3:49.83 
Bethwell Birgen (Kenya)3:50.42 
Matthew Centrowitz (USA)3:50.53 
Elijah Manangoi (Kenya)3:52.04 
Vincent Kibet (Kenya)3:52.15 
Ryan Gregson (Australia)3:52.24 
Ronald Kwemoi (Kenya)
Charlie Grice (Great Britain)
Ben Blankenship (USA)3:53.13 
Timothy Cheruiyot (Kenya)3:53.17 
Clayton Murphy (USA)3:54.31 
Filip Ingebrigtsen (Norway)3:55.02

Pre Meet 2017 Competitors

Rockin' Women's 200 Set to Roll at Pre Classic

            Eugene, Oregon – The women's 200 meters at the Prefontaine Classic is every  sprint fan's dream.

            All three Olympic medalists from Rio are returning to Pre, where the eventual Olympic trio met for the first time last year in a race that was even tighter than the Rio final.

            Incredibly, added to that trio is the woman who has won more Olympic gold than any other American besides Carl Lewis. Allyson Felix returns to the historic oval where she burned the fastest time ever seen in this event on U.S. soil.

            It will be the first-ever meeting of all four superstars in any event.
            Jamaican Elaine Thompson, 24, is the only woman since Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988 to win Olympic gold in the 100 and 200 meters in the same year, claiming both in Rio last summer.  With a 200-meter best of 21.66, she is just .02 off Jamaica’s national record set by legendary Merlene Ottey.  In the 100, she is co-holder with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of the Jamaican record at 10.70, winning last year’s loaded Jamaican national championships.

            Thompson has started 2017 well with a wind-aided 10.75 100 meters this month in Kingston.  Indoors she ran a PR 6.98 in the 60 meters – the only sub-7 performance by a Jamaican besides those of Ottey and Fraser-Pryce.
            Dafne Schippers, 24, is Europe’s best sprinter and has been so since she made a huge event shift after her first major medal, a bronze in the heptathlon at the 2013 Moscow World Championships.  Since then Schippers has concentrated on the sprints, winning double gold at the 2014 European Championships before a silver and gold at the 2015 Beijing World Championships made her the first woman from the Netherlands to win a World Championships title in any event (200).

            Schippers owns the world’s fastest times already this year at 10.95 in the 100 and 22.29 in 200, both achieved two weeks ago in southern California.  In late-March, she had memorable anchors on multi-national relay teams, especially a speechless 4 x 200-meter anchor that caught Oregon star Ariana Washington at the tape by just .01.
            Tori Bowie, 26, has won the last two Pre Classic races at this distance, including last year’s first-ever matchup of eventual Rio’s Olympic medalists.  She earned her first Olympic medal with a silver in the Rio 100, and her bronze in the 200 four days later confirmed her position as the only American medalist in either sprint.  She anchored the U.S. 4 x 100-meter team to a fabulous gold, running the second-fastest time in history despite being in lane 1.

            Bowie has impressive history in lane 1.  In 2014, she sped a world-leading 22.18 to win the Pre Classic from the inside lane.  That meet also featured her last long jump – an event where she owned a best of 22-9¾ (6.95).  After that, she turned full-tilt to the sprints, beginning an incredible run as the top-ranked American 100 sprinter every year since, as selected by Track & Field News.

            Her 2017 season shows promise, topped by a wind-aided 10.80 in mid-April, the second-fastest in the world under any conditions this year behind Thompson’s 10.75w.
            No one has run faster in the U.S. since Allyson Felix blistered a 21.69 at Hayward Field to win the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, still the fastest on American soil.  The four-time Olympian's long list of achievements can only be compared to other legends.

            At the 2012 London Games she became the first women’s triple gold medalist since Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988, winning her first individual gold in her signature 200.  Only a breathtaking finish by Bahamian Shaunae Miller prevented Felix from a Rio 400 gold.  With her silver, Felix now has the most Olympic medals by a woman with nine, along with Merlene Ottey.  Including men, only Carl Lewis (10) has more Olympic medals in current events among Americans.  She has ranked No. 1 (10 times) or No. 2 (3) among Americans since she was an 18-year-old in 2003.

            Felix has already shown prime form this year, clocking a 49.9 relay leg at the Mt. SAC Relays earlier this month.
            Jenna Prandini, 24, edged Felix in a frantic finish for the final spot on the U.S. team last year at Hayward Field.  It was among Prandini’s rare returns to Hayward Field since winning the 2015 U.S. title in her PR 22.20.  This will be a homecoming to the track where she won three individual NCAA titles in the long jump and 100 for Oregon.  Since leaving Oregon, she has been world ranked twice, both at No. 9 in the 200 by T&FN.

            Marie-Josée Ta Lou, 28, came as close as possible to an Olympic medal last year, running a national record 10.86 in Rio, just an eyelash behind the bronze of Fraser-Pryce with the same time.  She repeated as a 4th-placer in the 200 at 22.21 for Cote d’Ivoire.  Both of her 4th-places are the best ever by a woman from her country.  Her only previous race in the U.S. was a 7th in last year’s World Indoor Championships 60 in Portland.

            Simone Facey, who will turn 32 on May 7, is a Jamaican with three NCAA titles while at Texas A&M in 2007-08.  She led off the Jamaican 4 x 100-meter team at the last two IAAF Relays as well as in the heats of the Rio Olympics.  She ran 11.00 this month in Florida, her fastest since a 10.95 to win the 2008 Big 12 Championships.

            Ivet Lalova-Collio, 33 on May 18, is a four-time Olympian from Bulgaria who won silver medals in the 100 and 200 in last year’s European Championships. 
Women’s 200 MetersPersonal Best
Dafne Schippers (Netherlands)21.63 
Elaine Thompson (Jamaica)21.66 
Allyson Felix (USA)21.69 
Torie Bowie (USA)22.18 
Jenna Prandini (USA)22.20 
Marie-Josee Ta Lou (Cote d’Ivoire)22.21 
Simone Facey (Jamaica)22.25 
Ivet Lalova-Collie (Bulgaria)22.32 

Sub-4 Onslaught in Women's 1500 at Pre?

            Eugene, Oregon – This year’s women’s metric mile at the Prefontaine Classic could see the most sub-4 times in the meet’s history, thanks to the strongest field ever assembled in the United States. 

            Nearly half of the entrants in the 15-woman field have lifetime bests under that magic barrier. When these 7 toe the line, it will be the most ever in one race in the U.S. Their challenge will be to surpass the current record for most sub-4s of 5 set in the 2014 Pre Classic.

            The race will feature a titanic clash of America’s best, along with world-class rivalries from distance powerhouses Kenya, Ethiopia, and Great Britain. The field includes 12 runners who were finalists in at least one event in Rio. Let’s start with one of the great American rivalries: Jenny Simpson vs. Shannon Rowbury.
            Jenny Simpson earned America’s first Olympic medal in this event in Rio with a bronze, half a second ahead of 4th-placer Shannon Rowbury, who added to her stature as the only American with more than one Olympic final.  It was the latest chapter in one of the best rivalries seen in this event. Simpson owns a career 18-9 edge in their 1500/mile head-to-head meetings, dating back to their first, in the ’09 Pre Classic.

            Simpson’s bronze in Rio was her first of the Olympic variety, but the 30-year has a pair even higher – a World Championships silver in 2013 and the gold from 2011, when she became the only American besides Mary Slaney in 1983 to earn a top-podium spot in a global event.  Simpson and Slaney each have eight career sub-4s, tied for the most by an American. Will there be a new leader after this year’s Pre race?
            Rowbury, 32, has by far the best Olympic record by an American.  Her 7th-place finish in Beijing in 2008 was the best-ever by an American until she improved to 6th in London.  A frantic finish in Rio saw her best yet, an agonizing 4th behind rival Simpson.

            She is the fastest American in history, running 3:56.29 in 2015 to shatter Slaney’s AR of 3:57.12 set in 1983 (less than two months before Rowbury was born).  Rowbury also has the American record in another Olympic event, chopping almost four seconds off Molly Huddle’s standard with a 14:38.92 in the 5000 last summer.  She has been the top-ranked American at 1500 by Track & Field News six times since 2008, including the last two.

            Rowbury’s loss to Simpson in the 2009 Pre Classic 1500 was followed that summer with a national title and World Championships bronze, the first by an American in this event since Regina Jacobs in 1999.  Rowbury has five sub-4 performances, tied with Suzy Hamilton for the most by an American behind Slaney and Simpson.

            Interestingly enough, even though the Simpson/Rowbury head-to-heads have produced no fewer than 11 sub-4 performances and 5 occasions where both have broken 4 in the same race, there has never been—yet—a Pre Classic with both breaking the barrier.
            The two fastest Kenyans in history both earned Olympic medals in Rio last year and return to the Pre Classic having won different events with personal-best performances.

            Faith Kipyegon, 23, earned Rio gold with a stunning finish in the 1500 that saw her cover the last two laps in 1:57.2, giving world record holder Genzebe Dibaba her first loss in almost two years. [More on Dibaba at Pre coming soon!]  Kipyegon ran her fastest 1500 – 3:56.41 – to capture last year’s Pre Classic with the fastest time ever recorded on U.S. soil.

            This will be Kipyegon’s fifth appearance in the Pre Classic, where her slowest time (4:01.08) came as runner-up in 2013 as a 19-year-old.  Three weeks earlier she had destroyed the world Junior record at 3:56.98, then the fastest by a Kenyan of any age at the time.  She now has four career sub-3:57 times, the four fastest ever recorded by a Kenyan.

            Kipyegon’s impressive career includes a silver from the 2015 World Championships and gold medals from the 2011 World Youth and 2012 World Junior titles in meet-record fashion.  She also owns World Junior cross-country titles in 2011 and 2013 and finished 6th in this year’s senior harrier race.

            Hellen Obiri, 27, was formerly the Pre Classic and Kenyan record holder.  Instead of running the 1500 again last year, she moved up to the 5000 and lowered her PR by just under a minute to lead four Kenyans that included eventual Olympic gold medalist Vivian Cheruiyot.  In Rio Obiri lowered her PR again and finished with the silver.

            Obiri has never lost at Hayward Field, twice recording the best times ever on U.S. soil in 1500 (3:58.58 in 2013, 3:57.05 in 2014) in addition to last year’s 5k PR (14:32.02).   Obiri owns a 10-3 career record over Kipyegon in the 1500.

            Laura Muir, who will turn 24 on May 9, is the reigning IAAF Diamond League winner and the fastest from Great Britain since Kelly Holmes, who won the 2004 Olympics.  Her best of 3:55.22 last year is the fastest by anyone besides Dibaba since 1997.  This will be Muir’s only U.S. appearance besides last year’s 5th Avenue Mile, a narrow loss to Simpson who produced her record fifth such win.

            Britain’s Laura Weightman, 25, earned the bronze medal in the 2014 European Championships after earlier taking silver to Kipyegon in the Commonwealth Games that summer. 
            Three Ethiopians include a pair of 20-year-olds who are no strangers to Oregon fans.  Dawit Seyaum and Gudaf Tsegay were gold and silver medalists, respectively, at the 2014 World Junior Championships held at Hayward Field.  Last year they led a 2-3-4 Ethiopian finish at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, with 22-year-old Axumawit Embaye taking 4th.  Embaye was the silver medalist in 2014.

            Seyaum was runner-up in last year’s Pre Classic with a then-PR 3:58.10 and is Ethiopia’s third-fastest ever at 3:58.09.  She has been the No. 2-ranked Ethiopian the last three years by T&FN.  Tsegay ran her PR 4:00.18 for 3rd in last year’s Pre Classic.
            Sifan Hassan, 24, is the second fastest in the field at 3:56.05 and won gold at last year’s World Indoor Championships in Portland.  Born in Ethiopia, she began competing for the Netherlands in 2014, world ranking in the top 5 the last three years by T&FN, topped by a No. 2 in 2014.  Hassan was 5th in 2014’s fantastic Pre Classic, when five ran sub-4and was the Diamond League winner in 2015.

            Americans Kate Grace, 28, and Shelby Houlihan, 24, were both finalists in their first Olympics last year.  Grace, a six-time Ivy League champ while at Yale, was 8th in the 800 and this winter lowered her 1500 best to 4:04.86.  Her 800 PR is 1:58.28.  Houlihan is a former NCAA 1500 champ from Arizona State and set her 1500 PR 4:03.39 in last year’s Pre Classic.  She concentrated on the 5k in the summer, taking 11th in Rio.  In early March of this year, Houlihan won her first U.S. titles, doubling in the mile and 2-mile indoors.

            Rababe Arafi, 26, of Morocco finished just outside of the medals in the 2015 Beijing World Championships, taking 4th in the 800.  She also was a finalist in the 1500, as she was in Rio last summer.

            Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui, 21, was a finalist in Rio last summer and earned bronze in March at the European Indoor Championships.  She was 5th in the 2014 World Junior Championships held at Hayward Field.

            Australia's Linden Hall, 25, ran her lifetime best of 4:01.78  in finishing 5th at last year's Pre Classic.  No Aussie has ever broken 4-minutes. Could she be the first?
Women’s 1500 MetersPersonal Best
Laura Muir (Great Britain)3:55.22 
Sifan Hassan (Netherlands)3:56.05 
Shannon Rowbury (USA)3:56.29 
Faith Kipyegon (Kenya)3:56.41 
Hellen Obiri (Kenya)3:57.05 
Jenny Simpson (USA)3:57.22 
Dawit Seyaum (Ethiopia)3:58.09 
Laura Weightman (Great Britain)4:00.17 
Gudaf Tsegay (Ethiopia)4:00.18 
Sofia Ennaoui (Poland)4:01.00 
Linden Hall (Australia).4:01.78 
Axumawit Embaye (Ethiopia)4:02.35 
Rababe Arafi (Morocco)4:02.71 
Shelby Houlihan (USA)4:03.39 
Kate Grace (USA)4:04.86 

April 18, 2017
For Immediate Release 

Reigning Olympic and World Champions Headline Pre Classic 110 Hurdles

            Eugene, Oregon – In a first-ever showdown on American soil, the last five No. 1 world-ranked high hurdlers will go head-to-head at the 2017 Prefontaine Classic. The all-star quintet includes the last two Olympic Champions, the last two World Champions and the World Record Holder, all of whom have dipped under the 13-second barrier in their careers. 

            For their accomplishments, each of the five has ranked No. 1 in the world at least once by Track & Field News.
            Omar McLeod, who will turn 23 on April 25, won Jamaica’s first Olympic gold medal in this event last year in Rio and similarly became the first from his country to rank No. 1 in the event by T&FN.  He was dominant in last year’s Pre Classic, winning by over 3 meters in 13.06, his fastest time in the U.S.  A year earlier, he captured his final NCAA title in a wind-aided 13.01 for Arkansas at Hayward Field then took the Jamaican crown with a national record 12.97, still the only sub-13 run in Jamaica.

            McLeod’s speed is clearly one of his best assets.  Last April he clocked a 9.99 in his first known 100-meter race, becoming history’s only man to break both the 10-second (100) and 13-second (110 hurdles) barriers.  He won last year’s World Indoor Championships 60 hurdles in Portland in a Jamaican record 7.41. 
            World record holder Aries Merritt, 31, has displayed gold-medal form on and off the track.  He won the U.S. indoor 60 hurdle title in Albuquerque this winter for his first U.S. crown since 2012, the only other year he has won a U.S. championship.

            That year saw Merritt go global in a way any athlete could dream of.  After a wind-aided 12.96 for 2nd at the Pre Classic to China’s Liu Xiang (12.87w), Merritt never lost the rest of the season.  He PRed twice in winning the U.S. Olympic Trials, then again in London to become the first American in 16 years to win the Olympic gold.  He closed out the season with fireworks, running 12.80 at the Diamond League final to set a world record that has yet to be challenged.

            Times became tough since, especially in 2015.  He earned bronze in Beijing at the World Championships in 13.04 – his fastest since his world record.  Merritt achieved it knowing that in four days hope loomed, as he would receive a new kidney to replace  one that had become damaged from a rare disease.  The donor was his older sister, LaToya.  He missed making the U.S. Olympic team last summer, 4th by just millimeters.
            Sergey Shubenkov, 26, is the defending world champion from Beijing in 2015 and ranked No. 1 in the world by T&FN  that year. He ran a lifetime best and Russian record 12.98 to win the World Champions.  Shubenkov has competed at the Pre Classic three times, finishing 5th in 2015 and 2014 and 6th in 2013.  He earned Russia’s first major medal in this event in 2013 with a bronze at the Moscow World Championships.  Raised in Siberia, Shubenkov comes from an athletic family. His mother, Natalya Shubenkova, finished 4th in the heptathlon at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
            American David Oliver, who will turn 35 on April 24, is the only two-time No. 1 T&FN world ranker in the field, having earned such distinctions in 2013 and 2010.  He owns the two fastest times at the Pre Classic with victories in 2010 (12.90—an American Record at the time) and 2011 (12.94).  His 12.90 remains the fastest recorded by anyone on U.S. soil.

            This will mark the 10th appearance for Oliver in the Pre Classic, where he has finished no lower than 3rd in his four previous trips.  Oliver was the 2013 world champion, bronze medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and is the only hurdler to be ranked among the world’s Top 10 by T&FN since 2006.  A three-time Diamond League Trophy winner, he was favored to make last year’s U.S. Olympic team until a hamstring injury kept him from running the final.

            France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, 25, also has a pair of Pre Classic victories, winning in 2014 and 2015 in his only races at Hayward Field.  He is the French record holder at 12.95 and in 2014 he earned both the Diamond League trophy as well as his country’s first No. 1 world ranking by T&FN in this event since 2005.  He is the only French Pre Classic winner in this event since the first edition was captured by Guy Drut in 1975, a year before winning gold at the Montreal Olympics.

            Dimitri Bascou, 29, earned the Olympic bronze medal last year, the best by a Frenchman in this event since Drut’s 1976 gold.  He also won European gold last year, the first for his country since 1986.  This will be Bascou’s first Pre Classic and first competition in the U.S. since earning bronze in the 60 hurdles at the World Indoor Championships last year in Portland.

            Great Britain’s Andrew Pozzi will turn 25 on May 15.  He capped an undefeated indoor season in the 60 hurdles with a European Indoor gold.  At 7.43 indoors, he is the fastest Briton since Colin Jackson, who still owns the world record at 7.30.  His outdoor best of 13.19 rates him No. 4 all-time among Britons. 
            A lane is still to be filled, and meet organizers hope it will be filled by Devon Allen, the 22-year-old Oregon star who twice swept NCAA and USATF titles.  After a 5th in last year’s Olympics, he incurred his second football-related injury in September in the Ducks’ third game at Nebraska. He is now back in training, but only for the hurdles. His best of 13.03 – set last July at Hayward Field to win the U.S. Olympic Trials – is the fastest by an American on U.S. soil since 2014.
Men’s 110-Meter HurdlesPersonal Best
Aries Merritt (USA)12.80 
David Oliver (USA)12.89 
Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (France)12.95 
Omar McLeod (Jamaica)12.97 
Sergey Shubenkov (Russia)12.98 
Dimitri Bascou (France)13.12 
Andrew Pozzi (Great Britain)13.19 

World Record Holder Jebet Returns to Pre Classic

            Eugene, Oregon – The steeplechaser who won Olympic gold and stunned with a world record as a 19-year-old will return to lead an amazing race at the Prefontaine Classic.

            Returning as well is the American record holder who has run nothing but PRs at  Pre.
            Many eyes will be fixed on Ruth Jebet, now all of 20.  As a 19-year-old, the Kenyan-born runner re-wrote the record book for Bahrain, which she has represented since May 2013.  She cracked the sub-9 barrier first in last year’s dramatic Pre Classic, winning with a crowd-pleasing homestretch by just .04 seconds.

            Jebet left no drama the rest of summer, never losing and eventually setting the world record (8:52.78) at the Paris Diamond League meet after winning Olympic gold by nearly 10 seconds with yet another sub-9 win in Rio.  She owns three of history’s four sub-9 clockings.

            Her No. 1 in last year’s world ranking by Track & Field News was not her first appearance in the Top 10.  Incredibly, in 2014 she was No. 5 when she was just 17 – that year she won the IAAF World Junior gold at Hayward Field.
            Emma Coburn, 26, earned the first American Olympic medal in this event with a bronze last summer in Rio, lowering the American record she set in last year’s Pre Classic.  She is a five-time U.S. champion, giving her the most steeple titles, and she has never lost since her first attempt as a 20-year-old in 2011.  Her dominance among Americans has elevated her to be among the world’s very best, ranking No. 2 in the world by T&FN in 2014 and No. 3 last year – the two highest appearances by an American.

            Coburn has shown she is not afraid to take charge, even in the world’s biggest races.  In Rio she saw Jebet and two Kenyans ahead of her with two laps to go.  Coburn “made the move a lifetime” according to T&FN and ran the fastest over that stretch to secure bronze, with silver just half a second away.  A year earlier in Beijing at the World Championships, she was in the lead on the bell lap and in a frantic finish she wound up 5th, despite appearing to be cut off.

            Coburn will be making her fifth overall appearance at the Pre Classic, where she has set a lifetime best on every occasion, including her still-standing 1500 best of 4:05.10 in 2015.  She owns nine of the 10 fastest U.S. times in the steeple – the only other is a former American record set by her Colorado training partner, Jenny Simpson.

            The 2017 season has seen Coburn already in top form, leading off a star-studded distance medley relay in January that clocked the fastest indoor time in history, 10:40.31.
            Beatrice Chepkoech, 25, made a huge breakthrough at last year’s Pre Classic.  In her first-known 3k steeple, she ran a world-class 9:17.41 – more than 20 seconds faster than her 3k best without hurdles.  The Kenyan had shown a glimpse of steeple greatness a year earlier, running the second-fastest time ever in the rarely contested 2k version.

            She was 4th in the Rio Olympics – in medal position with two laps to go before Coburn made a decisive move that Chepkoech couldn’t match.  Prior to last year she was primarily a middle distance runner, and her 1500 best of 4:03.28 is the fastest in this field.

            Sofia Assefa, 29, is the Ethiopian record holder at 9:09.00 and the former Pre Classic record holder.  The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist is also the only woman steepler to rank among the world’s top 10 in each of the last eight years by T&FN – the last seven among the top 5.  She was 5th in last year’s deep Pre Classic after winning in 2014 with a meet record and a pair of runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2012.  Assefa is the only runner to compete in all four Pre Classic women’s steeple races.

            Virginia Nyambura, 23, won the 2015 Diamond League Trophy, the youngest winner at 21 in this event until Jebet last year (19).  The Kenyan won the 2010 Youth Olympic gold in the 2k steeple and in 2015 earned her first Top 10 world ranking from T&FN, finishing No. 3.  She also clocked the fastest-ever 2k steeple time in 2015 at 6:02.16, just ahead of Chepkoech.  Though not selected to the Kenyan Olympic team last year, Nyambura was the third-highest ranked Kenyan in last year’s T&FN world rankings at No. 7.

            Genevieve LaCaze, 27, made two Olympic finals last year, the first ever for an Australian in either the steeple or 5000.  Her best finish came in the steeple (9th place) which matched her position in the T&FN world rankings.  She set PRs at every distance she raced last year.

            Less than a month after Rio, LaCaze ran in the Diamond League finals in both the steeple and 5k, albeit in different meets.  The Florida grad still has fans in the Southeastern Conference shaking their heads after winning the steeple, 5k and 1500 at the 2012 SEC Championships, a feat unmatched before or since.  She completed that season as NCAA runner-up in the steeple and by making her first Olympic team in London.

            Gesa-Felicitas Krause, 24, has made every world major final since she was a 19-year-old in 2011, including two Olympics and topped by a World Championships bronze in 2015.  She set a pair of PRs last year, first winning the European Championships in Amsterdam, then taking 6th in Rio.

            An incredible collection of American steeplers is included.  They are the fastest ever besides the Colorado pair of Coburn and Simpson, and only one has ever raced in the Pre Classic.  Two, along with Coburn, were the first American threesome to make an Olympic final.

            The two Olympians from Rio were also NCAA champions at Hayward Field.  Courtney Frerichs won last year for New Mexico, while Colleen Quigley claimed the 2015 title for Florida State.  They finished 8th and 11th, respectively, in Rio last year.

            The 2014 NCAA champ also won at Hayward Field and is also 24 years old, as Michigan State grad Leah O’Connor can add an indoor NCAA mile title to the mix, from 2015.  She is the only one of the three to have run in the Pre Classic already, finishing 6th last year in a PR 9:18.85.

            Stephanie Garcia was NCAA runner-up for Virginia to Coburn in 2011.  In 2015 she was ranked No. 10 in the world by T&FN – the only mention by an American not named Coburn since 2009.

Women’s 3000m SteeplechasePersonal Best
Ruth Jebet (Bahrain)8:52.78 
Emma Coburn (USA)9:07.63 
Sofia Assefa (Ethiopia)9:09.00 
Beatrice Chepkoech (Kenya)9:10.86 
Virginia Nyambura (Kenya)9:13.85 
Genevieve LaCaze (Australia)9:14.28 
Gesa-Felicitas Krause (Germany)9:18.41 
Leah O’Connor (USA)9:18.85 
Stephanie Garcia (USA)9:19.48 
Colleen Quigley (USA)9:20.00 
Courtney Frerichs (USA)9:20.92 

Duplantis added to DL pole vault list for Pre Classic
By Doug Binder, DyeStat Editor
Armand Duplantis, the 11th grader from Lafayette LA who has become one of the best pole vaulters in the world, will get a chance to show his stuff at the biggest international meet in the U.S. this year. 
Duplantis was added to the pole vault list on the Diamond League Web site Monday, opening the door for the national and world U-20 record holder to compete against some of the top vaulters in the world, including world record holder Renaud Lavillenie. The Prefontaine Classic, at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., is May 26-27.
Duplantis has been adding chunks of height to his personal best since January, and cleared 19-4.25 (5.90m) at the 90th Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays. He is scheduled to compete again Saturday in California at the 59th Mt. SAC Relays at El Camino College in Torrance.
Although the Pre field had been filled with nine competitors, Duplantis was an alternate. 
Duplantis competes internationally for his mother's native Sweden and was the silver medalist at last summer's IAAF World U-20 Championships. 
But it's his 19-foot clearances, first at New Balance Nationals Indoor in New York City's Armory (19-1) and the result at Texas Relays that have boosted Duplantis' profile to the realm of world elite. 
The pole vault at the Prefontaine Classic is particularly prestigious because it is a Diamond League event. Top pro athletes can accumulate points at Diamond League events and win an diamond trophy and $50,000 prize.

Best-Ever Women's 800 Field Ready for Pre Classic

            Eugene, Oregon – The women’s 800 meters at the Prefontaine Classic can once again easily pass for the World Championships final in any year.

            Every medalist from the Rio Olympics as well as the World Championships indoors and outdoors is confirmed, as are the last four IAAF Diamond League winners.

            In addition, Hayward Field will see the return of its record holder and an American who is the youngest ever to run under 1:58 on its historic oval, both coming at previous memorable Pre Classic races. You want fast times? Everybody in the field has a sub-1:58 lifetime best.
            Caster Semenya will return to Hayward Field as the owner of two Olympic gold medals, the first ever in this event.  The 26-year-old South African used a tremendous finish in Rio to repeat her London victory from 2012.  It was her fourth global title in a career that has seen ups and downs beginning in 2009, when at 18 she was the youngest ever to win the World Championships.

            Semenya’s 2016 season was clearly her best yet and showed a return to form not seen since 2012, when she first won Olympic gold and last ranked among the world’s top 10 by Track & Field News.  In 2016, Semenya demonstrated impressive range from the 400 (winning the Diamond League final in 50.40) to the 1500 (winning the African Championships gold in 4:01.99) in addition to being ranked No. 1 in the world by T&FN for the first time since 2009.

            This will be only the second race in the U.S. for Semenya – she was 2nd to Jamaica’s Kenia Sinclair in the 2011 Pre Classic.  Semenya is undefeated in the 800 since September 2015, a streak currently at 12 races.
            Francine Niyonsaba, who will turn 24 on May 5, won the World Indoor title in Portland last year.  Last summer she became the first woman from Burundi to earn an Olympic medal with her silver from Rio.  Niyonsaba’s Pre Classic victory in 2013 at age 20 produced Hayward Field’s still-standing record of 1:56.72 – her only other race on U.S. soil besides last year’s World Indoor gold.

            Niyonsaba first captured attention in 2012, coming out of nowhere to win the African Championships at age 19.  That summer followed with her country’s first Olympic final by a woman (5th) and a season where she ranked No. 3 by T&FN.  She was dominant last year, winning everywhere except to Semenya.
            Ajee’ Wilson, who will turn 23 on May 8, had the unfortunate luck of running in a slow Olympic semifinal consisting of all three medalists from last year’s World Indoor in Portland.  Wilson earned the silver at Portland but in that fateful Rio semi the other medalists advanced while Wilson was left out of the final.

            It was a feeling Wilson had never experienced before, and she has been on a tear ever since.  She has yet to lose this year, including an American record indoors of 1:58.27 to win the Millrose Games in New York.  Wilson nearly won the 2015 Pre Classic, losing by .05 seconds to a defending world champion as her 1:57.87 at age 19 is still the youngest sub-1:58 time recorded at Hayward Field.

            World ranked No. 2 by T&FN in 2014, Wilson is among America’s best-ever on multiple levels.  She swept the 2014 U.S. indoor and outdoor titles, the youngest to do so since a 15-year-old Mary Decker in 1974.  As a 19-year-old, Wilson was a finalist in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, where she ran an American Junior record of 1:58.21.  Her international experience includes gold medals at the 2012 World Juniors and 2011 World Youth Championships – she is the only American to win either title.
            Marina Arzamasova, 29, is the defending world champion, winning gold at Beijing in 2015.  An Olympic finalist in Rio, she also earned bronze at the 2014 World Indoor.  She is the second-fastest ever from Belarus in this event since dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, when she was just 3.  The two-time Olympian earned her first major medal in 2014 at the World Indoor.

            Margaret Nyairera Wambui, 21, earned two bronze medals last year, first at the World Indoor then at the Olympics.  The latter was Kenya’s first Olympic medal in this event since 2008, when Pamela Jelimo struck gold.  She ranked No. 3 in the world last year by T&FN, her first in the top 10.  Wambui won the World Junior gold medal at Hayward Field in 2014.  Her 400 PR of 51.39 is second best in the field to only Semenya.

            Eunice Sum, 28, of Kenya led the T&FN world rankings from 2013-15 and earned three-straight Diamond League crowns in the same seasons.  The 2013 world champion earned bronze in 2015.  This will be her sixth Pre Classic appearance, winning the 800 in 2015 and setting lifetime bests in two other events – 1500 (4:01.54 in 2014) and 3000 (8:53.12 in 2012).

            Melissa Bishop, 28, set the Canadian record of 1:57.02 while being just a foot out of a medal at Rio after being silver medalist at the World Championships in Beijing.  She has been ranked No. 4 in the world in each of the last two years by T&FN, the highest by a Canadian since Abby Hoffman—now an IAAF Council member—in 1971.

            Lynsey Sharp, 26, is a two-time Olympian who ran her fastest in the Rio Games – and the fastest by anyone from Great Britain since Kelly Holmes won the 2004 Olympic gold in Athens.  Ranked No. 2 in the world in 2015 by T&FN, Sharp’s 1:57.69 at Rio was a PR by more than second, bettering her best from earning silver at European Championships in 2014.

            Joanna Jozwik, 26, is an Olympic finalist who is Poland’s third-fastest ever, but the first finalist since 1980.  She ran her PR 1:57.37 in Rio to finish 5th.  Jozwik was ranked No. 5 in the world last year by T&FN after No. 8 in 2015, when she also made the World Championships final.  Her first-ever sub-2 race earned her a bronze at the 2014 European Championships.

            Watch out for Selina Buchel, 25, who won her second European Indoor gold last month in Belgrade.  She set the Swiss national record of 1:57.95 in 2015.

Women’s 800 MetersPersonal Best
Caster Semenya (South Africa)1:55.28 
Francine Niyonsaba (Burundi)1:56.24 
Margaret Nyairera Wambui (Kenya)1:56.89 
Eunice Sum (Kenya)1:56.99 
Melissa Bishop (Canada)1:57.02 
Joanna Jozwik (Poland)1:57.37 
Marina Arzamasova (Belarus)1:57.54 
Ajee’ Wilson (USA)1:57.67 
Lynsey Sharp (Great Britain)1:57.69 
Selina Buchel (Switzerland)1:57.95 


April 5, 2017
For Immediate Release 

Reese vs. Bartoletta: A Gold Medal Clash in Pre Classic Women's Long Jump 

            Eugene, Oregon – The only American women besides Jackie Joyner-Kersee to win Olympic gold in the long jump will lead the world’s best at the Prefontaine Classic.

            The incredible field includes all three of last year’s Olympic medalists from Rio. They waged a thrilling battle that ended with two lifetime bests and a podium full of the last three Pre Classic winners. 

            The Prefontaine focus will be on the Americans who completed the first U.S. 1-2 Olympic finish with Tianna Bartoletta earning gold less than an inch ahead of Brittney Reese, the London gold medalist.
            Brittney Reese, 30, is the most accomplished jumper in the field.  She has eight major medals – seven of them gold.  Despite earning her only silver in Rio, Reese finished the season ranked No. 1 in the world by Track & Field News for the sixth time.  Her previous five (2009-13) marked the event’s first time a jumper had put up five consecutive No. 1s.

            Reese, an active Twitter user with the handle @DaLJBeast, was the favorite going into Rio, having won a third World Indoor gold in Portland and then her first Pre Classic in five attempts dating to 2009.  And especially so after jumping a PR 23-11¾ (7.31) at Hayward Field to win her 10th U.S. title with the farthest jump on U.S. soil since Joyner-Kersee’s American record 24-7 (7.49) in 1994.

            She took the lead in round 5 in Rio at 23-3¼ (7.09), poised to become the first woman to successfully defend her Olympic crown.  After being passed by Bartoletta, Reese improved in the last round to 23-5½ (7.15), less than inch away from gold.   Reese’s three Olympic finals are topped among Americans only by Joyner-Kersee’s four in this event.
            Tianna Bartoletta, 31, won two gold medals in Rio – first in the titanic long jump, then two days later leading off the U.S. 4 x 100-meter team with the second-fastest time in history at 41.01.  She led off the fastest-ever squad four years earlier, when the Americans set the world record of 40.82 in the London Olympics.

            Bartoletta’s amazing timing for long jump bests in big meets dates back to 2005, when as a 19-year-old she won the World Championships in Helsinki in a PR 22-7¼ (6.89).  A year later, she scored an indoor best with a gold at the 2006 Moscow World Indoor Championships.  Her gold medal at the 2015 Beijing World Championships came with a lifetime best 23-5½ (7.15), and if Bartoletta hadn’t jumped her 23-6¼ (7.17) best in Rio she would have switched positions with Reese.  Even her lone Pre Classic victory in 2015 was achieved with a wind-aided 23-4 (7.11), her best under any conditions at the time.
            The third medalist from Rio is Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic, who will turn 27 on May 10.  After being displaced from the gold medal position – first by Reese, then Bartoletta – Spanovic responded with the two longest performances of her career but still wound up with the bronze medal.  It matched her finishes in the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, won by Reese and Bartoletta, respectively.  Her top international effort came last year in Portland, where she earned silver at the World Indoor Championships.

            Since the Rio Games, Spanovich has been on a tear.  She won the Diamond League trophy last year and ended the season with a lifetime best of 23-3½ (7.10) – a mark she improved to 23-9 (7.24) last month with a victory at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade, the capital of her home country.  Spanovic has jumped 22-7 (6.88) twice at the Pre Classic, winning in 2014 and finishing 2nd to Reese last year by just over an inch.
            Lorraine Ugen, 25, of Great Britain will return to the Pre Classic, where she was 3rd the last two years and was ranked No. 5 in the world by T&FN both years.  A two-time NCAA champion while at Texas Christian, she was bronze medalist at last year’s World Indoor and jumped a PR 22-10½ (6.97) to earn silver at last month’s European Indoor behind Spanovich.
Estonia’s Ksenija Balta, 26, was ranked No. 4 in the world last year by T&FN, her first appearance in the world top 10 since 2009.  She won the European Indoor that year and finished 2nd at the Pre Classic by one centimeter with the day’s best wind-legal jump.  She was 6th in Rio last summer and 5th in the European Indoor last month, both with a best 22-3½ (6.79).

            Darya Klishina, 26, was Russia’s lone participant in track & field at Rio last summer. Klishina, who lives and trains in Florida, has been in the T&FN  top 10 world rankings all but one year since she was 19 in 2010 – she was No. 3 and moved up to No. 2 in 2011.  She has made every major world final since 2010 and won the European Indoor title in 2011 and ’13.  In 2014 she jumped just as far as Spanovic at the Pre Classic (22-7/6.88) but finished 2nd due to a lower second-best mark.
Women’s Long JumpPersonal Best
Brittney Reese (USA)23-11¾(7.31)
Ivana Spanovic (Serbia)23-9(7.24)
Tianna Bartoletta (USA)23-6¼(7.17)
Darya Klishina (Russia)23-1¾(7.05)
Lorraine Ugen (Great Britain)22-10½(6.97)
Ksenija Balta (Estonia)22-6½(6.87)