April 15, 2013
Eugene, Oregon – Racing fans, be prepared. World record holder David Rudisha is eager to lead a world-class 800-meter field at the Prefontaine Classic.
Rudisha, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, is no stranger to racing the best in the world, having shattered the 1:41 barrier in his London victory against them. But competing at the 39th Prefontaine Classic on June 1 will be his first chance to display his incredible talent at historic Hayward Field. The Kenyan superstar recognizes the significance of the event.
“I’ve heard about the great crowd at Eugene. Bernard Lagat tells me it’s where they have a special interest in middle distances,” says the 24-year-old Rudisha. “So I’m excited to go and run there for the first time. I hope to run well and give the crowd something to enjoy.”
When Rudisha runs, crowds enjoy. His talent in the 800 meters is at historical levels, as he now owns 6 of the 8 fastest times in history, including his world record 1:40.91 set while winning the Olympic gold in London. For his stellar 2012 season, Rudisha was named men’s Athlete of the Year by Track & Field News magazine.
Rudisha’s confirmation makes for a phenomenal Pre Classic field, as every 2012 Olympic finalist is confirmed. This also makes the men’s 800 meters the 5th of 5 events announced by the Pre Classic that will include every medalist from the London Olympics.
The silver and bronze medalists from London may still only be teenagers but they are already record setters in their own right. Silver medalist Nijel Amos of Botswana is one of only 5 men to run under 1:42, and the World Junior champion and record holder (1:41.73) is the fastest of any 18-year-old ever. His PR equals that of legendary Sebastian Coe, whose 1981 world record was set more than a decade before Amos was born. Bronze medalist Timothy Kitum of Kenya extends the youth movement, as his best of 1:42.53 is the fastest ever by a 17-year-old. Amos and Kitum were ranked No. 3 and 5 in the world last year by T&FN.
Only one man has defeated Rudisha in the last 3 years, and he has done it twice. Amazingly, that person is still only 19 years old, Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia. Aman, the 2012 World Indoor champion, has spoiled undefeated seasons for Rudisha in 2011 and 2012. A finalist in both the 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympics, his aim is on this summer’s World Championships in Moscow. Aman was ranked No. 2 in the world last year by T&FN.
Two more world-class teenagers grace the Pre Classic field in Leonard Kosencha and Abraham Rotich, both of Kenya, ranked No. 4 and 6 in the world last year by T&FN. Kosencha won the 2011 World Youth Championships over Aman, Kitum, and Amos. While still 19, Rotich is the only teenager in the field not eligible for Junior records this year, as he will turn 20 before the end of the year.
Can any American compete with Rudisha and the speedy young threats? The Pre Classic includes the two best in Duane Solomon and Oregon TC favorite Nick Symmonds. Just out of reach of the Olympic medals in London (4th and 5th, respectively), each ran lifetime bests in that epic Olympic final. Both are using the Pre Classic to continue improvement, as they are the Nos. 2 and 3 fastest Americans ever.
Since 2007, no one in the world has a better record against Rudisha than Abubaker Kaki of Sudan, who defeated Aman in a thrilling race to win last year’s Pre Classic. A 2-time World Indoor gold medalist, Kaki was World Championships silver medalist behind Rudisha in 2011. A year younger than Rudisha, Kaki was 5-1 head-to-head with Rudisha through the 2009 season. It wasn’t until the end of the 2011 season that Rudisha pulled ahead (Rudisha now leads 8-5). Kaki has had great success at the Pre Classic, having won the 1K in 2010 as well as the 800 in 2011 and 2012. His 2011 victory in 1:43.68 is still the Meet and Hayward Field Record. Kaki was also the World Junior record holder from 2008 (1:42.69) until Amos’ run at London.
Three more sub-1:44 runners complete the field. Andrew Osagie of Great Britain is a London finalist who won bronze at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. Adam Kszczcot of Poland is holder of the bronze from the 2010 World Indoors. Job Kinyor is a steadily rising Kenyan anxious for a return to Eugene, having started his best season at the Pre Classic last year. Taken all together, this is a field as good as any seen in any invitational meet ever, anywhere.
|Men’s 800 Meters||Personal Best|
|David Rudisha (Kenya)||1:40.91|
|Nijel Amos (Botswana)||1:41.73|
|Abubaker Kaki (Sudan)||1:42.23|
|Timothy Kitum (Kenya)||1:42.53|
|Mohammed Aman (Ethiopia)||1:42.53|
|Duane Solomon (USA)||1:42.82|
|Nick Symmonds (USA)||1:42.95|
|Abraham Rotich (Kenya)||1:43.13|
|Adam Kszczcot (Poland)||1:43.30|
|Leonard Kosencha (Kenya)||1:43.40|
|Job Kinyor (Kenya)||1:43.76|
|Andrew Osagie (Great Britain)||1:43.77|
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 www.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.