2008 and 2012 Olympic Champs Asbel Kiprop and Taoufik Makhloufi to square off with every Olympic finalist as well as everyone ranked in top 10 in world
Press Release from Pre Classic
May 22, 2013
Eugene, Oregon – The iconic Bowerman Mile annually closes the Prefontaine Classic on the highest of notes, but this year’s finale seems destined to send Eugene’s fans into orbit. Not only is every London Olympic 1500-meter medalist confirmed, but so is each of the IAAF Diamond League’s previous winners.
It doesn’t stop there. Also confirmed are every one of the top 10 in the world as ranked by Track & Field News, as well as all 11 currently top-rated by All-Athletics.com, which combines 2012 accomplishments with current-year performances.
The Bowerman Mile is a cornerstone of the Pre Classic, the 39th edition to be held June 1. It annually holds the best men’s mile race in the world, and since 2000 has been named in honor of legendary Oregon coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman.
Two Olympic 1500-meter gold medalists are among this year’s headliners. Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria stunned the world with his London gold, having never previously ranked among the world’s top 10. The 25-year-old has never raced the classic mile distance, nor any race in the U.S.
But the 2008 Olympic champ has. Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, the Beijing gold medalist, has ranked no lower in the world than No. 2 since 2008, including three No. 1 rankings. Kiprop is a Hayward Field legend, winning the Bowerman Mile three times out of four, all since 2009. Every one of his four Hayward Field performances has been sub-3:50. He was the first Diamond League winner in 2010, and is currently rated No. 1 in the world by All-Athletics.com.
Another young Kenyan in the field was last year’s best. Silas Kiplagat earned the 2012 No. 1 ranking by T&FN, after having been No. 2 in 2011 and No. 3 in 2010. He has twice raced in the Bowerman Mile, finishing as runner-up in a sub 3:50 in 2011. Kiplagat capped last year’s campaign by winning the Diamond League title.
Three Americans in the field have experienced memorable victories at Hayward Field. Matthew Centrowitz, an Oregon grad, was the 2011 NCAA champion and won the bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships. He just missed a medal in London, finishing 4th. His numerous Hayward Field victories include the 2011 USATF 1500-meter title. Centrowitz was ranked No. 5 in the world last year by T&FN.
Leo Manzano surprised many with his London silver in the 1500. None of the Texas grad’s four NCAA indoor/outdoor titles occurred in Eugene, but winning last year’s Olympic Trials 1500 did. He won his first race at Hayward Field in the 2005 Oregon Relays.
Northern Arizona grad Lopez Lomong, the Olympic flag bearer for the U.S. in Beijing, has made the World Championships final at 1500 meters and now owns the American Record in the indoor 5k at 13:07.00. He ran a scorching 3:51.21 indoors this February.
Mekonnen Gebremedhin, is Ethiopia’s 2nd fastest ever in the 1500 and the mile. He was runner-up in last year’s Bowerman Mile and was bronze medalist in last year’s World Indoor Championships and was ranked No. 3 in the world last year byT&FN. Gebremedhin is currently rated No. 3 by All-Athletics.com.
Rated No. 4 in the world is Kenya’s Bethwell Birgen, 4th in last year’s Bowerman Mile. Countryman Nixon Chepseba will be running in Eugene for the first time. The third member of Kenya’s Olympic 1500-meter team (joining Kiprop and Kiplagat), he won the 2011 Diamond League title as a 20-year-old. They are rated No. 4 and No. 5 in the world by All-Athletics.com.
While there are only three spots on the Kenyan Olympic team, the Pre Classic accepts the best in the world, with no limits by country. Also lining up will be two more from the East African powerhouse: Collins Cheboi, the 2011 All-Africa Games silver medalist, and Caleb Ndiku, winner of the 2010 World Junior Championships. As an 18-year-old Ndiku was 5th in the 2011 Bowerman Mile, running 3:49.77, the fastest ever for that age. He was 5th again last year, just ahead of Cheboi, who was 6th. All-Athletics.com currently has Cheboi No. 8 and Ndiku No. 10 in the world.
East Africa has another young entrant in Ayanleh Souleiman. Only 20 years old, he owns Djibouti’s national records in the 800, 1500, and 3000. He was 3rd in last year’s Bowerman Mile in 3:50.21, another national best. Last year’s African Championships silver medalist, he is rated No. 9 in the world by All-Athletics.com.
Abdelaati Iguider of Morocco has much more experience, earning the bronze medal in London as well as reaching the final in the 5000. His career includes a gold medal in the 2004 World Junior Championships. Last year’s World Indoor Championships gold medalist at 1500, Iguider is rated No. 11 in the world by All-Athletics.com.
Nick Willis of New Zealand was the 2008 Olympic silver medalist and won the 2005 NCAA Indoor mile while at Michigan. Ryan Gregson of Australia is a two-time winner of the Pre Classic’s International Mile.
With 15 fields announced, the Pre Classic now numbers 75 major medalists, of whom 36 own major gold medals, and more still to come. With 12 of the announced events featuring the London gold medalist, nine include a sweep of medalists, including the Bowerman Mile.
|Bowerman Mile||Mile Best 1500 Best|
|Asbel Kiprop (Kenya)||3:48.50||3:28.88|
|Silas Kiplagat (Kenya)||3:49.39||3:29.27|
|Mekonnen Gebremedhin (Ethiopia)||3:49.70||3:31.45|
|Caleb Ndiku (Kenya)||3:49.77||3:32.02|
|Ayanleh Souleiman (Djibouti)||3:50.21||3:30.31|
|Bethwel Birgen (Kenya)||3:50.43||3:31.00|
|Leo Manzano (USA)||3:50.64||3:32.27|
|Nick Willis (New Zealand)||3:50.66||3:30.35|
|Lopez Lomong (USA)||3:51.21||3:32.20|
|Matthew Centrowitz (USA)||3:51.34||3:31.96|
|Collins Cheboi (Kenya)||3:51.44||3:32.08|
|Abdelaati Iguider (Morocco)||3:51.78||3:31.47|
|Ryan Gregson (Australia)||3:52.24||3:31.06|
|Nixon Chepseba (Kenya)||3:53.36||3:29.77|
|Taoufik Makhloufi (Algeria)||none||3:30.80|
Tickets for the 39th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 31-June 1 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now from PreClassic.com and from 1-800-WEBFOOT. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and by NBC Sports from 1:30 till 3:00 p.m. PT on June 1st.
The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track and field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually. Last year’s Pre Classic presented the most 2012 Olympic gold medalists (20) of any invitational meet in the world.
Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is perhaps the most inspirational distance runner in American history. Many call him the greatest ever. He set a national high school 2-Mile record while at Coos Bay High School that lasted nearly two decades. While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4) every time he competed, and never lost a collegiate race at any distance. As a collegiate junior, he made the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team and nearly won an Olympic medal, finishing 4th in the 5K at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at age 22. After finishing college in 1973 and preparing for a return to the Olympics in 1976, he continued to improve, setting many American records. His life ended tragically on May 30, 1975, the result of an auto accident, at age 24. The Pre Classic began soon after and has been held every year since.