Pre Classic Women’s 10K: OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST RETURNS TO BIG TIME
April 4, 2012
Eugene, Oregon—Add another feather in the cap of Hollister Night at Hayward. Already the host of Kenya’s Olympic trials selection race in the men’s 10,000 meters, the Friday portion of the 38th Prefontaine Classic, named in honor of the late Geoff Hollister, has added reigning double Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia to the women’s 10K, fresh off a victory in Sunday’s Carlsbad 5K road race.
This year’s Pre Classic will be held June 1-2 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. Admission is free on Friday, thanks to long-time sponsor NIKE, in tribute to Hollister, one of the original executives at the company.
Dibaba is the world record holder in the 5K (14:11.15) and second fastest ever at 10K (29:54.66). She is the owner of 11 Olympic or World gold medals, but missed the 2011 season while recovering from injury. Her 5K/10K double at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the first time a woman won both events at the same Olympics. She has been ranked No. 1 in the world nine times by Track & Field Newsat either 10K or 5K, including 2010 when she was No. 1 in both. Dibaba will turn 27 on June 1, the day of the Pre Classic women’s 10K. She is married to Sileshi Sihine, himself a two-time Olympic silver medalist (2004 and 2008 10K).
Dibaba headlines a talented international field with a definite East African accent, as 14 of the entrants are from Ethiopia (9) or Kenya (5) and another competes for Azerbaijan but was born in Ethiopia. The lone runner without a tie to East Africa is American Amy Yoder Begley, the fourth-fastest American ever (31:13.78) and a 2008 Olympian who was ranked No. 1 in the U.S. in 2009 and 2010 by Track & Field News. The field plans to tap into Eugene’s energy for fueling excellent distance performances.
An accomplished group of veterans is looking for a springboard to the Olympics, led by Worknesh Kidane (30:07.15) of Ethiopia, who is a two-time Olympian (4th in 2004), a two-time World cross country champion, and the 2003 World Championships silver medalist at 10K. She is joined by a trio of fellow sub-31:00 runners: Wude Ayalew (30:11.87) of Ethiopia, the 2009 World Championships bronze medalist at 10K; Lucy Kabuu Wangui (30:39.96) of Kenya, a two-time Olympic finalist who has been ranked in the world’s top 10 three times by T&FN; and Aberu Kebede (30:48.26) of Ethiopia, the 2009 World half-marathon bronze medalist who finished 12th in last year’s World Championships marathon. Add to that group Sule Utura (32:06.89) of Ethiopia, who was ranked No. 8 in the world last year at 5K by T&FN, and Pauline Korikwiang (31:06.29) of Kenya, a former World cross country champion who was ranked No. 7 in the 10K in 2010.
Several gifted young runners with impressive credentials are also looking to the big stage: Belaynesh Oljira (31:17.80) of Ethiopia is a 21-year-old who is the defending Ethiopian national champion; Tigist Kiros Gebreselassie (31:20.38) of Ethiopia is a 19-year-old who was a finalist in last year’s World Championships; and Ethiopian-born Layes Abdullayeva (32:18.05) of Azerbaijan, who will turn 21 three days before the race, swept the 5K and 10K at last summer’s European under-23 championships.
Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia)
Sule Utura (Ethiopia)
Pauline Korikwiang (Kenya)
Wude Ayalew (Ethiopia)
Belaynesh Oljira (Ethiopia)
Tigist Kiros Gebreselassie (Ethiopia)
Layes Abdullayeva (Azerbaijan)
Lineth Chepkurui (Kenya)
Abebech Afework (Ethiopia)
Amy Yoder Begley (USA)
Lucy Kabuu Wangui (Kenya)
Pauline Njerike (Kenya)
Margaret Wangari (Kenya)
Worknesh Kidane (Ethiopia)
Aheza Kiros (Ethiopia)
Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia)
Tickets for the 38th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held June 2 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are on sale now from www.goducks.com and from 1-800-WEBFOOT. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and on NBC from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 2.
The Prefontaine Classic is the oldest on-going outdoor invitational track and field meet in America and is part of the elite Samsung Diamond League of 14 meets held worldwide annually. Last year’s Pre Classic results ranked highest among all of the 14 meets, according to All-Athletics.com, the official data Partnerof the Samsung Diamond League.
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, and few, if any, disagree. 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 the same year in his honor and has been held every year since.