Symmonds, Clark, Rowbury, Webb headline Pre Classic middle distance races
2008 Olympic Trials champions Nick Symmonds, Hazel Clark, Shannon Rowbury and U.S. record holder Alan Webb will compete June 7 at the 2009 Nike Prefontaine Classic at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene.
The fifth event of the 2009 USA Track & Field Outdoor Visa Championship Series, the Nike Prefontaine Classic will be televised live on NBC from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
In one of the most unforgettable moments ever on the fabled Hayward Field track, local favorite Nick Symmonds won the 800m men's final at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials to qualify for a U.S. Olympic team for the first time in his career. Symmonds was closely followed by University of Oregon standout Andrew Wheating who finished second and Eugene-based Oregon Track Club member Christian Smith, who dove across the finish line just ahead of 2004 Olympian Khadevis Robinson for the third and final spot on the Team USA 800m roster for the Olympic Games in Beijing. Smith's time of 1:45.47 bettered the Olympic A qualifying standard, which officially punched his ticket to Beijing.
Symmonds, Smith and Robinson will compete at the Pre Classic against an impressive array of international stars led by defending Prefontaine champion, Hayward Field record holder and Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Alfred Yego of Kenya, who ended the 2008 campaign ranked #1 in the world by Track & Field News. Also keep an eye on Ahmad Ismail of Sudan, who was the silver medalist in Beijing, and Canadian Gary Reed, who finished fourth at the Olympics and entered this year ranked #5 in the world. 2004 Olympic gold medalist and three-time World Outdoor Championships medal winner Yuriy Borzakovskiy also is in the field.
In the women's 800 meters, Hazel Clark returns to Hayward Field after winning the Olympic Trials there last year in qualifying for her third Olympic Team. Clark will be challenged by Olympic Trials runner-up Alice Schmidt, who ended the 2008 season ranked #1 in the U.S. by T&FN. The favorite in the race will be Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya, who won the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics and finished the season ranked #2 in the world. Also look for 2004 and 2008 Olympic finalist Tatyana Andrianova of Russia to challenge for top honors.
Shannon Rowbury will lead the U.S. contingent in the women's 1,500 meters following a standout 2008 season where she won at the Olympic Trials, finished seventh at the Olympic Games and ended the season ranked #1 in the U.S. and #6 in the world. Other Americans to watch out for in this event include 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, and standout 3,000m steeplechasers and 2008 Olympic Games finalists Anna Willard (2008 Olympic Trials champion) and Jenny Barringer (American record holder). 2008 Pre Classic runner-up and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Nancy Lagat of Kenya will be one of the favorites, along with Ethiopia's Gelete Burka, who is the defending Pre Classic champion and the #2 ranked women's 1,500m runner in the world.
The men's Bowerman Mile is always the featured event of the Pre Classic and this year will be no different with many of the world's finest middle distance runners in the field. Leading the Americans will be American record holder and 2004 Olympian Alan Webb, who will be joined by 2008 Olympic teammates Leonel Manzano and Lopez Lomong. Leading the international challengers will be Haron Keitany of Kenya, who ended the 2008 campaign ranked #1 in the world, and his countryman Asbel Kiprop, who won the silver medal in Beijing and entered this year ranked #3 in the world. Also keep an eye out for Kenyan Shedrack Korir, who won at Pre last year, and 2008 Canadian Olympian Nate Brannen.
Tickets for the 2009 Nike Prefontaine Classic may be purchased by calling 1-800-WEBFOOT or go online to www.goducks.com. USATF welcomes you to pay with your Visa.
For more information on the 2009 Prefontaine Classic and the USATF Visa Championship Series, visit: www.visachampionshipseries.com.
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For more information on USATF, visit USATF.org.