Prefontaine preview

Friday, 06 June 2008 World 10,000m record attempt for Bekele at Prefontaine Classic – PREVIEW – IAAF World Athletics Tour

Kenenisa Bekele takes the 5000m title in Addis Ababa (JOSE CENDON/AFP/Getty Images)

relnews Eugene, USA - Kenenisa Bekele would like to make his first outdoor appearance in the United States an historic one at the 34th Prefontaine Classic on Sunday (8 June) which is a Grand Prix status meeting as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2008.

The reigning World and Olympic 10,000m champion from Ethiopia is making a pre-planned assault on his World record of 26:17.53 to become the first runner to break 27:00 on American soil.

Bekele is among a cast of past and present individual World champions that includes Meseret Defar (ETH), Allyson Felix (USA), Maryam Jamal (BAH), Maria Mutola (MOZ), Sanya Richards (USA), Bernard Lagat (USA) and Saif Saaeed Shaheen (QAT)…

World record assaults in 10,000m and women’s 5000m

A special 10,000m race has been scheduled at 9:30 a.m., more than three hours before the start of the meet’s main section, to facilitate Bekele’s record attempt. Meet director Tom Jordan said that the morning start was optimal after compiling 20 years of data of wind conditions, humidity and temperature at Hayward Field.

Abreham Feleke (ETH), Boaz Cheboiya (KEN) and Louie Luchini will be the designated pace setters for Bekele in his bid to dip under his world standard set in Brussels in 2005 as well as the U.S. soil mark of 27:04.20 set in 2001 by Abraham Chebii.

Another brisk race is anticipated in the women’s 5000m, also held in the morning, by Meseret Defar (ETH), who lost her World record of 14:16.63 in Oslo (6 June) when compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba blitzed to 14:11.15 clocking.

As with the men’s 10,000m there will be designated pace setters with Olga Komyagina (Russia), Lisa Galiviz, Cack Ferrell and Amy Begley.

Lagat and Shaheen in 2 Miles

The 2-mile will pit Bernard Lagat, who became the first runner to complete a 1500m-5000m double in the World Championships in Osaka, and Saif Saaeed Shaheen (QAT), the World record holder in the 3000m Steeplechase.

Craig Mottram (AUS) won the 2007 Pre meet in 8:03.50 for the fastest time in the U.S. while another entrant is Paul Koech is currently the world season’s fastest in the Steeplechase.

In the meet finale, the Bowerman Mile, Daniel Kipchirchir Komen (KEN) is the defending champion and ran 3:48.28 for the fastest time ever in the U.S.A. Alan Webb is the American record holder who 3:53.43 as a high school senior in the 2001 Pre meet to shatter Ryun’s 36-year-old national high school record of 3:55.3.

Komen and Webb are part of a deep field with Tarek Boukensa (ALG), Belal Mansour and the 2005 800m / 1500m World champion Rashid Ramzi (BAH), Alex Kipchirchir, Shadrack Korir and Asbel Kiprop (KEN).

The women’s 1500m will feature a match-up between 2007 World gold medallist Maryam Jamal (BAH) and defending Pre champion Gelete Burka (ETH). Sarah Jamieson (AUS) and Yuliya Fomenko (RUS) are also entered.

Mutola looking for 16th win

Former World and Olympic champion Maria Mutola will make her final appearance at Hayward Field after winning 15 consecutive Pre women’s 800m titles dating to her days as a high school student at nearby Springfield High.

The No. 1 bib that Mutola has worn for the past 10 years will be retired. It will be used as the centerpiece for the inaugural Maria Mutola Outstanding Athlete Award that will be given for the first time at the end of Sunday’s meet.

Mutola will be challenged by 2008 USATF Indoor Champion Nicole Teter, who lives and trains in Eugene, 2007 Pan-American Games gold medalist Diane Cummins (CAN) and Hazel Clark-Riley and Alice Schmidt – the Nos. 2 and 3 runners on the 2007 U.S. list – and 2008 U.S. 1500m leader Shannon Rowbury.

Chanelle Price, a senior at Easton High (Pa.), who ran 2:02.38, set in the finals of the 2007 USATF Championships last summer, will be chasing the all-time U.S. high school record of 2:00.07 set by Kim Gallagher in 1982.

The men’s 800m will have three of the top nine from 2007, including World Championship gold and silver medallists Alfred Yego (KEN) and Gary Reed (CAN), Yusuf Kamel (BAH), and U.S. Nos. 1 and 2 Khadevis Robinson and defending Pre champion Nick Symmonds.

Felix and Richards headline women’s sprints

Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards are the principal names in the women’s 100m and 400m respectively.

In the 100m, Felix, the 2005 and 2007 World 200m champion, is the U.S. yearly leader at 10.93. Felix, who has yet to run a 200m this season, will be challenged by 2007 Pre winner and 2003 World Champion Torri Edwards and 2005 World gold medallist Lauryn Williams and Carmelita Jeter, who finished second and third in the 2007 World Championships.

Sherone Simpson (JAM), the 2006 world season leader, will continue her comeback after being slowed by a hip injury last season.

In the women’s 400m, Richards had the top five times in the World in 2007 headed by a 49.27 clocking. The 2007 Golden League co-jackpot winner is coming off a 50.04 clocking in rainy conditions in the Reebok Grand Prix (31 May).

Novlene Williams (JAM) finished third in the 2007 World Championships. Dee Dee Trotter and Mary Wineberg teamed on the U.S. gold medal 4 x 400m Relay in Osaka and Natasha Hastings won the 2007 NCAA title.

[b]Merritt looking for sub-44 in 400m

LaShawn Merritt, who posted a stunning upset over Jeremy Wariner in the 400m in a then world-leading 44.04 in the AF Golden League opener in DKB-ISTAF meeting Berlin on 1 June, could be pushed to another fast clocking at Pre. Wariner blasted to a 44.93 improvement to Merritt’s mark in Oslo (6 June). [typo, 43.93.kk]

The entrants include 2007 World bronze medallist Angelo Taylor, Osaka 400m Hurdles champion Kerron Clement along with Darold Williamson and Gary Kikaya (COD).[/b]The men’s 200m will pit Wallace Spearmon and Xavier Carter. Spearmon, a 2005 and 2007 World Championships medallist, won the 200m in New York in 20.07 sec.

Carter ran the No. 3 fastest time in history in the 200m (19.63) in 2006 and clocked 44.70 in the 400 in New York. Other entrants are Rodney Martin who finished fourth in the 2007 World Championships and Shawn Crawford who is the 2004 Olympic 200m champion.

Crawford will also run in the 100m with Mark Jelks, Ivory Williams and Michael Frater (JAM), Darrell Brown (TRI) and Francis Obikwelu (POR).

Walker and Thomas lead Pole Vault and High Jump

Brad Walker and Donald Thomas, the defending World Champions in the Pole Vault and High Jump, will be the featured entrants in those events at the Pre.

Walker won the gold medal at the 2007 World Championships and World Athletics Final and had the top two marks in the world at 5.95m and 5.92m last year. American record holder Jeff Hartwig, 2004 Olympic champion Tim Mack and three-time NCAA champion Tommy Skipper who is competing on his former home track at Eugene, are also competing.

Thomas also won the World Championships and World Athletics Final titles and shared the world lead at 2.35m in 2007. Others to watch include Russia’s Andrey Silnov and Ivan Ukhov, and Americans Jesse Williams and Tora Harris.

Liu Xiang questionable for the 110m Hurdles

The participation of World 110m Hurdles record holder Liu Xiang (CHN) is questionable because of tightness in his right hamstring in his trail leg. Liu won’t make a decision on whether to run or not until after warming up on Sunday.
With or without Liu, Allen Johnson will continue his bid to make a fourth Olympic Games at age 37 with compatriots Anwar Moore, David Payne and Ryan Wilson on the starting line in Eugene.

Damu Cherry is the world leader in the women’s 100m Hurdles with a 12.47 clocking at Fort-de-France on 8 May. Cherry will run against Jamaicans Bridgette Foster-Hylton and Lacena Golding-Clarke and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (CAN)

Candice Davis, the 2007 NCAA runner-up has risen to the international scene in her first full season as a professional with Larry Wade’s assistance to finish second in the World Indoor Championships and run a career-best 12.71 outdoors.

Hoffa, Cantwell and Nelson in Shot Put

The world’s top three shot putters, Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell and Adam Nelson, will duel at the Pre. Cantwell threw a world season leading 21.39m at the Modesto Relays on 10 May. But Hoffa, the 2007 World outdoor champion, is coming off a victory over Nelson and Cantwell in New York (31 May).

In the women’s Discus Throw, Stephanie Brown-Trafton is the yearly global leader at 66.17m surpassing her 61.39m PB set in 2007 by more than 5m this season. Others in the field include Vere Cechlova (CZE) and Americans Suzy Powell, Becky Breisch, Aretha Thurmond.

Reigning World champion Becky Heidler (GER) and Ivana Brkljacic (CRO) are the top entrants in the women’s Hammer Throw.

Facts and Figures

The Prefontaine Classic is the fourth stop on the five-meet USATF Visa Championship Series that culminates with the U.S. Olympic Trials on 27 June-July 6 at Hayward Field.

The meet is named after Steve Prefontaine, America’s greatest distance runner at the time of his tragic death in 1975 at age 24.

Kirby Lee for the IAAF