“How does a kid from Coos Bay, with one leg longer than the other win races? All my life people have been telling me, ‘You’re too small Pre’, ‘You’re not fast enough Pre’, ‘Give up your foolish dream Steve’. But they forgot something, I HAVE TO WIN.”
Ah, my favorite quote from the late Steve Prefontaine himself. & that’s essence of the pre Classic, the innate drive to win. Well, this Olympic year will be no different, as top athletes will gather at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon on June 1st and 2nd to strut their stuff. Here’s the rundown of what to keep your eyes on:
The Women’s Discus will be no short of amazing, featuring reigning Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Brown-Trafton of the U.S., Aretha Thurmond of the U.S., Zaneta Glanc of Poland, and Sandra Perkovic of Croatia will give her some competition.
My, my, my, is the Men’s 5000m loaded. The vets and the young guns will give us a little taste of what to expect in London. Reigning Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and the reigning World Championships gold medalist Mo Farah of Great Britain lead the group. Remember Bekele’s amazing double in Beijing? Sweeping the 5K and 10K put him over the top as one of the all-time greatest distance runners.
Motherhood seems to look good on Chaunte Lowe as she is having a breakout season since the birth of her second child. She jumped an American record of 6-7.5 (2.02m) and claimed the World Indoor Championship in Istanbul. Anna Chicherova of Russia, who won last year’s gold medal at the Daegu World Championships, will look to rain on her parade along with Emma Green Tregaro of Sweden, who has been a finalist at every Olympics or World Championships since 2005.
In the Men’s 400m, king of the quarter Kirani James (GRE) headlines, coming off his gold at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu at the tender age of 18 and a 43 split at the 2012 Penn Relays. But, guess who’s back? 2004 Olympic gold medalist Jeremy Wariner (USA) is entered, along with reigning Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt (USA), and Kevin Borlée of Belgium, the bronze medalist from Daegu and reigning European Championships gold medalist. Also intermediate hurdle specialist American Angelo Taylor, who is the defending Prefontaine Classic 400 champion, Bahamians Christopher Brown, the 2010 World Indoor Champion and Texas A&M alum Demetrius Pinder, and the “Blade Runner,” Oscar Pistorius of South Africa. Pistorious is a double amputee who was a member of South Africa’s 4 x 400-meter relay team that earned the silver medal at last year’s World Championships.
Nowhere to go but up from here. Brittney Reese is the clear favorite in the Women’s Long Jump, I mean, she has been ranked No. 1 in the world each of the last three years by Track & Field News magazine. Her American Record came this past World Indoor Championship, recording a distance of 23-8.75 (7.23). The previous record belonged to the legendary Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
In probably what is the strongest field ever in the United States, this hurdle field is one to pay close attention to. It includes the five fastest men’s 110-meter hurdlers in the world, the last two Olympic gold medalists and all three medalists from last year’s World Championships. Cuba’s Dayron Robles and China’s Liu Xiang are the two fastest hurdlers in history, Robles owns the current world record holder with a time of 12.87. Reigning World Championships Jason Richardson, who defeated both Robles and Liu last August in Daegu to earn the gold will compete along with David Oliver, Daegu bronze medalist and 2-time Olympian Andrew Turner of Great Britain, and American Aries Merritt.
Half-milers Alysia Montano and Maggie Vessey, who are also two of the fastest in U.S. history, will be compete in the Women’s 800m. 2008 Olympian Alice Schmidt and bronze medalist at this year’s World Indoor Championships Erica Moore will also compete. Vessey is having a hell of season and looks good while doing it. Be on the lookout for her killer kick.
The Men’s Triple Jump features Christian Taylor, the reigning World Outdoor Champion, and Will Claye, Christian’s former University of Florida teammate and reigning World Indoor Champion. This dynamic duo will come against fierce world-class competition from Phillips Idowu of Great Britain Alexis Copello of Cuba, Leevan Sands of the Bahamas, Yanxi Li of China, and the 20-year-old Brazilian Johnathan Silva who is making quite the name for himself.
Check out www.preclassic.com for the rest of the fields that have been announced. The Prefontaine Classic will be shown live on NBC from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 2.
Tags: Alexis Copello, Alice Schmidt, Alysia Montano, Andrew Turner, Angelo Taylor, Anna Chicherova, Aretha Thurmond, Aries Merritt, Brittney Reese, Chaunte Lowe, Christian Taylor, Christopher Brown, David Oliver, Dayron Robles, Demetrius Pinder, Emma Green Tregaro, Erica Moore, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Jason Richardson, Jeremy Wariner, Johnathan Silva, Kenenisa Bekele, Kevin Borlée, Kirani James, LaShawn Merritt, Leevan Sands, Liu Xiang, London Olympics, Maggie Vessey, Mo Farah, Oscar Pistorius, Phillips Idowu, Sandra Perkovic, Stephanie Brown-Trafton, Steve Prefontaine, Texas A&M, Will Claye, Yanxi Li, Zaneta Glanc