26th May 2017
BRITONS OUT IN FORCE AT PREFONTAINE CLASSIC
Fourteen British athletes are in action during the two day Eugene Diamond League meeting this Friday, 26 and Saturday, 27 May.
The 43rd Prefontaine Classic takes place in the historic Hayward Field with the 5000m expected to be one of the highlights on Saturday. The 5000m was the favourite distance of Steve Prefontaine and this year’s race brings together a remarkable collection of the world’s best distance runners headed by four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah (coach: Alberto Salazar). Farah has racked up four victories at this event including the 5000m meeting record of 12:56.98 in 2012, plus three wins in the 10,000m. After a hard block of altitude training, Sir Mo got his outdoor season off to a very strong start last weekend when he tested his speed over 1500m and was only beaten by Olympic champion Matt Centrowitz.
He will be joined in the race by fellow Brit, Andrew Butchart (Derek Easton) who finished sixth in the 5000m at the Rio Olympics behind Farah. After setting a new personal best in the indoor 1500m he was eighth in the 3000m in the first Diamond League meeting in Doha.
In a stacked field Farah and Butchart are up against American, Paul Chelimo, the surprise silver medallist in Rio; the 2013 world champion, Hagos Gebrhiwet from Ethiopia; Yomif Kejelcha, the youngest ever winner of the Pre Classic 5000m; Kenyan, Geoffrey Kamworor who in March won his second World Cross Country crown; Mohammed Ahmed, current world lead with 13:04.60; and the second fastest in the field, Kenyan Isiah Koech.
Charlie Grice (Jon Bigg) runs in the final event on Saturday, the famous Bowerman mile in his first competitive event of the year. The Olympic 1500m champion, Matthew Centrowitz competing on his home track and Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop, the world’s most dominant miler, and Elijah Manangoi, the world lead over 1500m,are amongst a very competitive field.
Meanwhile, Chris O’Hare (Terrance Mahon) competes in an International Mile and comes into the race in good form having finished a close third behind Centrowitz and Farah last weekend setting a lifetime best of 3:34.35 along the way. The Ingebrigtsen brothers, Henrik and Jakob are among the favourites.
In the women’s 1500m Laura Muir (Andy Young) will make her outdoor season debut fresh from a superb indoor season culminating in winning double gold in the 1500m and 3000m at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March. She will be joined by Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) who last weekend successfully made her 5000m debut in California taking victory in 15.08.24, well inside the London 2017 World Championship qualifying standard. Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia and Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon also line up in this non Diamond League race.
The men’s 400m features Rio finalist Matthew Hudson-Smith (Tony Hadley) in his first Pre Classic appearance where LaShawn Merritt, Luguelin Santos and Pavel Maslak will be amongst the favourites.
Lynsey Sharp (Terrance Mahon) will open her outdoor season in the 800m which also features the Olympic champion and world lead, South African, Caster Semenya.
In the 100m, Adam Gemili (Rana Reider) and CJ Ujah (Jonas Dodoo) will compete in a race featuring eight men with sub-10 second PBs including Americans, Justin Gatlin, Ronnie Barker and Michael Rodgers, and Canada’s Andre de Grasse. Gemili opened his season with a 10.08 in April followed by first place in the 200m at the Shanghai Diamond League earlier this month. Ujah ran at 10.10 in California in April.
Following his win at the Loughborough International on Sunday, Andrew Pozzi (Benke Blomkvist) competes in the (non-Diamond League) 110m hurdles. His main rivals are likely to be Olympic champion, Omar McLeod, and Americans Aries Merritt and David Oliver.
In the long jump, which takes place on Friday evening, Shara Proctor (Rana Reider) and Lorraine Ugen (Shawn Jackson) face the current Olympic champion, Tianna Bartoletta and silver medalist from Rio, Brittney Reece. Ugen was in action in Guadeloupe last week producing a very solid 6.76m (0.4) leap, enough for second place behind America’s Reese who jumped a world lead of 6.98m. Proctor jumped for the first time this season in Japan at the weekend, producing a best jump of 6.65m (1.0).
Also on Friday, in a non Diamond League event, Eilish McColgan (Liz Nutall) takes on Ethiopians Genzebe Dibaba and Senbere Teferi along with Margaret Kipkemboi from Kenya. Teferi was second in the Shanghai Diamond League recently in 14:31.76 while Dibaba has yet to start her season. McColgan will be looking to build on her 15:22.12 in California earlier this month.
The Prefontaine Classic, Eugene Diamond League will be shown live on Eurosport 2 on Saturday 27 May 9-11pm with highlights on BBC2 on Sunday 28 May 2:30-3:30pm.