Olympic 800 Champ Returns To Pre Classic

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Press Release
April 29, 2013

Eugene, Oregon – Mariya Savinova,  the Olympic gold medalist in the 800 meters will return to the Prefontaine Classic with a world-class field of challengers led by previous Olympic gold medalist Pamela Jelimo, who narrowly followed Savinova in last year’s world rankings.

The women’s 800 meters is the eighth straight event announced by the Pre Classic to include the reigning Olympic gold medalist.  The 39th edition, to be held June 1 at historic Hayward Field, annually provides America’s best fans with the world’s best talent and is a member of the prestigious IAAF Diamond League.

Savinova is one of the event’s best ever. Not only did she win the Olympic gold medal in London, she also claimed the same color in Daegu for the 2011 World Championships.  The 800-meter race at Pre will begin the build-up to defending her World title, this time in her home country of Russia. In her previous visit to the Pre Classic in 2010, Savinova set a then-meet record of 1:57.56.

The 27-year-old joined an exclusive club last year by ranking No. 1 in the world for three straight years by Track & Field News.  Only two legends matched that feat – Jarmila Kratochvilova (still world record holder at 1:53.28 from 1983) and Maria Mutola (6-time Olympian, owner of a record 7 World Indoor gold medals, and the all-time Pre Classic title winner at 16).

Kenya’s Jelimo won the 2012 IAAF Diamond League title.  The Olympic gold medalist in 2008 at age 19, Jelimo was “barely” beaten for the No. 1 spot in the highly respected T&FN world rankings last year.  Savinova owns a career 4-3 edge head-to-head record over Jelimo.

Four more London Olympic finalists grace a very talented field: bronze medalist Yekaterina Poistogova of Russia; Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba, ranked No. 3 by T&FN; evergreen Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya, who has a complete set of World Championships medals as well as the Olympic silver from 2008; and front-running American Alysia Montano, who placed 5th at the Games. Niyonsaba was one of the great relevations of the 2012 season, starting the year as she did with no known performances, then running 1:56.59 and finishing 7th in the Olympic final as a 19-year-old. Montano won last year’s Pre race with a wire-to-wire effort, eclipsing Savinova’s  meet record with a time of 1:57.37.

Women’s 800 Meters Personal Best
Pamela Jelimo (Kenya) 1:54.08
Mariya Savinova (Russia) 1:55.87
Janeth Jepkosgei (Kenya)
Francine Niyonsaba (Burundi)
Alysia Montano (USA) 1:57.34
Yekaterina Poistogova (Russia) 1:57.53

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