June 7, 2007 at 12:14 am #6342
INDIANAPOLIS – Many of the world's finest track and field athletes, including Jeremy Wariner, Allen Johnson, Asafa Powell, Michelle Perry, Bryan Clay, Reese Hoffa, Walter Davis, Maria Mutola, Bernard Lagat, Kenenisa Bekele and Liu Xiang, among many others, will compete Sunday at the 2007 Nike Prefontaine Classic at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
The fourth event of USA Track & Field's 2007 Outdoor Visa Championship Series, the Nike Prefontaine Classic will be televised live on NBC, Sunday, June 10, from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Lagat, Webb to continue rivalry in Bowerman Mile
As always, the headline event of the Nike Prefontaine Classic is the Bowerman Mile, which this year features nine runners with lifetime mile bests under 4-minutes. The Hayward Field and Prefontaine Classic record of 3 minutes 49.92 seconds set six years ago by Hicham El Guerrouj could be in jeopardy.
Americans leading the way include two-time Olympic medalist and defending Bowerman Mile champion Bernard Lagat. Two-time U.S. Outdoor champion and reigning national indoor titlist Alan Webb returns to the Bowerman Mile, where he ran a 3:53.43 at the 2001 Pre Classic to set the national high school record. Webb's win at the Drake Relays on April 28 in 3:51.71 is the fastest mile time in the world this outdoor season, and he'll arrive in Eugene after his impressive win last week at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York in the second fastest mile time in the world this year of 3:52.94.
A strong international contingent will be led by Kenyan Alex Kipchirchir, who won the Bowerman Mile in 2005 and was #1 ranked in the world last year. Also watch for Kenyan Daniel Komen, who ran the fastest 1,500m time in the world last year of 3:29.02. Fellow Kenyan Shadrack Korir, who posted 1,500m wins at Lausanne and Madrid last season, also could be a factor.
World's best sprinters to challenge each other
The men's 200 meters could be the most anticipated contest on Sunday featuring many of the biggest names in the sport. The star-studded field includes 100m world record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica, Xavier Carter, who ran a world-leading time of 19.63 seconds last year (#2 all time), which is the second fastest performance in history, and 2006 Perfontaine winner Wallace Spearmon, who last year posted the third-fastest 200m time ever of 19.65 and won last week in New York in the second-fastest time in the world this year of 19.82 seconds. Also on the start list is world and Olympic 400m champion Jeremy Wariner and Olympic 200m gold medalist Shawn Crawford.
Symmonds, Robinson carry U.S. hopes in men's 800m
A member of the Oregon Track Club based out of Eugene, Nick Symmonds is the reigning USA Indoor men's 800m champion and was the surprise runner-up at the 2006 AT&T USA Outdoor Championships in Indianapolis. He'll face a strong 800m field that includes reigning U.S. Outdoor champion Khadevis Robinson and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Yuriy Borzakovskiy. Five of the entrants in the Pre 800 have run faster than 1 minute 44 seconds.
High hurdles have high interest
World record holder, Olympic champion and 2006 Prefontaine winner Liu Xiang of China will headline a supremely talented men's 110m hurdles field on Sunday. Xiang will enter the blocks in fine form coming off his world-leading 12.92-second winning performance at New York on Saturday.
Xiang will face one of his role models, three-time World Outdoor champion and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Allen Johnson, as well as American record holder Dominique Arnold. Also look for Ladji Doucoure of France, who finished second at Pre last year.
Michelle Perry and Ginnie Powell will face off in the women's 100m hurdles in what figures to be a tremendous race. The defending Prefontaine champion, Perry has been ranked #1 in the world the last two years. She'll take on Powell, who enters as the reigning U.S. and NCAA champion at this event and 2007 world leader with her time of 12.45 last week at the Reebok Grand Prix. This deep field also boasts world #2 ranked Brigitte Foster-Hylton of Jamaica and world ranked Americans Damu Cherry (2006 Pre runner-up), Lolo Jones (USA indoor champ) and Jenny Adams (fourth at 2006 USA Outdoors).
Phillips headlines loaded long jump field
World and Olympic champion Dwight Phillips will take on a strong field, which features Panamanian star Irving Saladino, who ended the 2006 season ranked #1 in the world after winning 15 of 17 competitions. Also look for reigning U.S. Outdoor champion Brian Johnson, 2005 U.S. Outdoor champion and 2006 Pre winner Miguel Pate, reigning world indoor and outdoor triple jump champion Walter Davis and 2005 World decathlon champion Bryan Clay.
Also in Eugene on Sunday, the first-ever Pre Classic women's triple jump will take place, headlined by 2004 Olympian, American record holder and two-time U.S. Outdoor champion Tiombe Hurd. Challengers will include Anastasiya Zhuravlyeva of Uzbekistan, who ended the 2006 season ranked #10 in the world, and Canadian champion Tabia Charles.
The clear favorite in the men's 2-mile race is Ethopia's Kenenisa Bekele, who dominated the world in the 5,000 meters last year, breaking the 13-minute barrier in six of his nine races. He has been ranked #1 in the world at 5,000 meters for the last three years. U.S. challengers include current U.S. 5,000m leader and 2004 Olympian Anthony Famiglietti, two-time USA Outdoor 5,000m champion Adam Goucher and 2006 national 5,000m runner-up Matt Tegenkamp.
In other running events, the women's 1,500m meet record of 4 minutes .73 seconds could fall with a field led by Yulia Chizhenko-Fomenko of Russia, who posted the world's fastest time in 2006 of 3:55.68 in Paris. The U.S. contingent will be led by Treniere Clement, who set her personal best of 4:03.32 last year. She'll be joined by two-time Olympian Shayne Culpepper, who currently leads the U.S. list (4:05.98)and Shalane Flanagan, who set the U.S. 5,000m record with her win April 13 at the Mt. SAC Relays in 14 minutes, 44.80 seconds, and who also broke the American 3,000m record indoors this year.
Kenya's Janeth Jepkosgei will be tough to beat in the women's 800 meters after posting the fastest time in the world last year of 1:56.66. Three-time U.S. champion Hazel Clark was world-ranked #10 last year and is in good form. But the unquestioned star of this event in Eugene is Maria Mutola of Mozambique, nine times ranked #1 in the world,who is undefeated in 14 appearances at this meet. 2006 U.S. Outdoor runner-up Alice Schmidt and 2004 Olympian Nicole Teter, who owns the year's fastest time by an American of 1 minute 59.91 seconds run last month in Eugene, also contend.
Hoffa, Cantwell, Kreiner, Powell lead throws lineup
Reese Hoffa, last year's #1 world-ranked thrower, will take on 2007 world leader and '06 Prefontaine champion Christian Cantwell, who won the adidas Track Classic last month with a throw of 21.96 meters/72 feet .75 inches. Two-time Olympic medalist and three-time World Outdoor champion John Godina, who is coming off an injury-plagued 2006 campaign, will compete Sunday, along with Dan Taylor, who ended last season ranked #8 in the world.
The women's javelin throw will feature world #1 Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic as well as Kim Kreiner and Suzy Powell, who earlier this year set American records in their respective specialties. Kreiner increased her U.S. record in the javelin throw for the sixth time in her career with her toss of 64.19 meters/210 feet 7 inches on May 16. Suzy Powell, set the American record in the discus on April 14, and will compete in the javelin at Pre. She was the NCAA javelin runner-up and Pac-10 champion in 1997. Other challengers include Denmark's Christina Scherwin, who now lives and trains in Eugene, who was ranked #6 in the world going into this year, and Spaniard Mercedes Chilla, who ranked #7 globally.
Tickets for the Prefontaine Classic are available at the Casanova Center ticket office in Eugene by calling 1-800-WEBFOOT, or online at http://www.goducks.com. USATF welcomes you to pay with your Visa.
For more information on the 2007 Nike Prefontaine Classic and USATF's Visa Championship Series, visit http://www.usatf.org.
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