PRE: Distance Dominated - IAAF Report

Kipchoge upholds Prefontaine distance tradition - Gatlin defeats Powell
Sunday 5 June 2005
Eugene, Ore. - There has always been something magical about Hayward Field to American miler Alan Webb.

Kenyan Eliude Kipchoge discovered that mystique at the University of Oregon track in the men’s two mile in the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday, 4 June.

Justin Gatlin of the US wins Pre’s 100m with same time as Asafa Powell of Jamaica
(Kirby Lee)

Kipchoge won in 8:07.68 in an American All-Comers record in his first U.S. appearance while pulling Webb to an American record 8:11.48 in the finale of the 31st annual meet that was named after American distance runner Steve Prefontaine, who died in 1975 at age 24.

Kipchoge and Webb’s performances highlighted a meeting that featured wins by 2004 Olympic champions Justin Gatlin in the 100m in a wind-aided 9.84; Liu Xiang of China in the 110m Hurdles in 13.06 and Tonique Williams-Darling of the Bahamas in the women’s 400m in 49.95.

Latest breakthrough for Webb

Webb, 22, first gained national acclaim as a high school senior in the 2001 Prefontaine Classic when he ran 3:53.43 to shatter the U.S. high school record of 3:55.6 by Jim Ryun that had stood since 1965. Last year, Webb, won the mile in a career-best 3:50.85 for the fastest time by an American in seven years.

“I love to run here,” Webb said. “I like to run in front of a U.S. crowd. There isn’t any place like this anywhere in this country.’’

Liu Xiang of China wins the 110m Hurdles at the Prefontaine GP
(Kirby Lee)

Kipchoge, 20, also found inspiration in the rhythmic clapping of the crowd of more than 10,000, running in the final three laps alone.

In addition to smashing Bob Kennedy’s all-comers two mile record of 8:14.53 set in the 1995 Prefontaine meet, Kipchoge passed through 3000 meters in 7:35.44 to break the American All-Comers record of 7:37.70 set by Rudy Chapa in 1979 at Hayward Field. Webb eclipsed the American record of 8:11.59 set by Kennedy in 1999.

“I appreciate the crowd,” Kipchoge said. “I wouldn’t have run this time if it weren’t for them. It’s a feeling that I can’t describe. It’s been a wonderful experience in the U.S. It’s been fantastic.’’

Maria Mutola of Mozambique wins 13th Prefontaine’s 800m
(Kirby Lee)

Kipchoge led through the first mile in 4:03 with Webb a few strides back. Webb sprinted past Boaz Cheboiywo of Kenya to move from second to third on the homestretch. For Webb, it was his first outdoor two mile since his sophomore year of high school when he ran “about 9:10.”

“I felt comfortable but I was thinking this is a time that used to be my best in the mile,” Webb said with a laugh.

Gatlin out-duels Powell in 100m

The pre-meet hype in the men’s 100m between Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell lived up to its billing with Gatlin out-leaning the Jamaican at the tape with both runners timed in a wind-aided 9.84.

Powell got the jump on Gatlin out of the blocks with Gatlin coming on strong at the finish to win on the lean. Gatlin and Powell led four athletes under 10 seconds in a race aided by a 3.4 mps breeze. Leonard Scott was third in 9.94 and Gatlin’s training partner Shawn Crawford was fourth in 9.98. World record-holder Tim Montgomery was seventh at 10.10.

After disappointing performances in winning the IAAF Osaka Grand Prix in 10.15 and finishing third in 10.14 Super Grand Prix in Doha, Gatlin watched videotapes of Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson to regain his focus.

“I went back and became a student of the sport,” Gatlin said. “I watched a lot of tapes and studied and trained real hard. There’s a lot for me to represent as Olympic champion.’’

There was another close finish in the 400m where Jamaican Michael Blackwood won in 45.48 over Americans LaShawn Merritt (45.57), Andrew Rock (45.58) Tyree Washington (45.59) and Derrick Brew (45.64).

Lagat upstaged in Mile

Alex Kipchirchir of Kenya used a fast finish to overtake Rachid Ramzi and Bernard Lagat to win the Bowerman Mile in 3:50.91. Ramzi and Lagat finished second and third in 3:51.33 and 3:51.53 to lead 10 milers under 4:00.

Lagat’s time was the fastest by an American by more than six seconds but the 2004 Olympic silver medallist for Kenya came up short in a well-publicized attempt at the American All-Comers record and meet record of 3:49.92 set by Hicham El Guerrouj.

It will be the one of the few attempts this season for Lagat, who became an American citizen on 7 May 2004 more than three months before the Athens Olympics as he is ineligible to compete for the U.S. in the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki this summer but hopes to represent the U.S. in the 2008 Olympics.

“I am looking at my future and what I might want to do after my running,” said Lagat, who has lived in the U.S. for more than a decade. “I have 30 years of Kenyan in me but I am a new American. The only time I visit Kenya is to visit family or go for the Trials. My running is not going to last forever and I want to raise my family in the U.S.’’

The women’s 1500m turned into a survival test won by Christin Wurth-Thomas in 4:09.45 after Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain, Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia and Americans Shayne Culppper and Carrie Tollefson where a third of the 16-runner field to go down in a pile up with a lap to go. Radcliffe eventually finished sixth in 4:13.13 with Culpepper eighth in 4:17.60. Ceplak did not finish.

Felicien regains edge on Hayes in 100m Hurdles

Perdita Felicien defeated Olympic champion Joanna Hayes for the second time in three meetings this season, 12.58 to 12.72.

Felicien defeated Hayes in the Jamaica International Invitational on 7 May before losing to Hayes in the adidas Classic on 22 May after what the Canadian called an “awful” race.

Felicien said she has tried to put the 2004 Athens final where Hayes won in an Olympic record 12.37 and she failed to finish after tripping over the first hurdle in the past.

“It’s a new season,” Felicien said. “There’s not any rivalry between me and (Hayes). You can’t pick out someone to concentrate on. I’ve just tried to concentrate on my race and correct my mistakes.’’

Xiang and Trammell repeat Athens finish in High Hurdles

Liu Xiang and Terrence Trammell repeated their 1-2 Olympic finish in the 110m Hurdles. Xiang won in a meet and stadium record 13.06 after enduring two false starts that led to the disqualification of 1996 Olympic champion Allen Johnson.

Trammell was second in 13.12 and American Dominique Arnold continued a strong campaign after being sidelined by injury the last two seasons to place third in a season-best 13.16.

Jackson stands tall in 400m Hurdles

With Felix Sanchez sidelined by a calf injury, Bershawn Jackson won the 400m Hurdles in 47.91 to break the 2004 Olympic champion’s meet record of 48.12 set last year.

Jackson trailed Danny McFarlane entering the homestretch but pulled even over the final barrier to nip the Jamaican Olympic silver medallist by four hundredths.

Jackson, who stands 1.70m, now holds the top two times in the world this season. He finished fourth in the U.S. Olympic Trials and missed a berth in Athens by one place. This season he clocked 47.62 in the adidas Classic to move into a tie for ninth in the all-time U.S. list.

Williams wins 100m Rematch

Lauryn Williams avenged a defeat to Yuliya Nesterenko of Belarus in the Athens 100m final with a convincing win in 11.16. Williams rocked out of the blocks and was never challenged by Nesterenko, who finished last in seventh place in 11.47. Americans LaTasha Colander and Muna Lee were second and third in 11.29 and 11.32.

Tonique Williams-Darling of the Bahamas ran a controlled race to win the women’s 400m in a world-leading 49.95 and hold off Sanya Richards of the U.S. by three hundredths. Monique Hennagan, the U.S. Olympic Trials champion, was third in 50.71.

Thirteen lucky for Mutola

No runner has been more of a fixture at Prefontaine than Maria Mutola of Mozambique, who won the 800 in 1:59.95 for her 13th consecutive meet win. Mutola’s only loss came in the 1500m in her inaugural Pre meet as an 18-year-old Springfield High senior when she was shoved on the final turn.

In the men’s 800m, Gary Reed of Canada held off reigning Olympic champion Yuri Borzakovskiy of Russia to win, 1:44.82 to 1:44.91.

Walker, Aldrich win vertical jumps

Brad Walker and Erin Aldrich knocked off Olympic gold medallists to win the Pole Wault and women’s high jump.

Walker cleared a lifetime-best 5.90m on his first attempt to defeat Toby Stevenson at the same height. Derek Miles was third at 5.80m. Athens Olympic champion Tim Mack was sixth at 5.60m.

Erin Aldrich was a surprise winner over Olympic champion Yelena Slesarkeno of Russia in the women’s High Jump. Aldrich led a 1-2 U.S. finish with Ifoma Jones at 1.95m and 1.92m, respectively.

Kotova, Sands post LJ, TJ wins

Kotova won the Long Jump with a fifth-round effort of 6.80m to overtake Round 1 leader Elva Goulbourne of Jamaica (6.64m). American Grace Upshaw was third in 6.49m.

In the men’s Triple Jump, Leevan Sands of the Bahamas bounded a wind-aided 17.16m. Yanxi Lii of China, however, claimed the meet record with a legal 17.15m by surpassing the mark of 17.12 set by Kenny Harrison of the U.S. set in 1988.

Kirby Lee (The Sporting Image) for the IAAF