Kipyegon, Obiri lead 1500m challenge in Eugene
Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon and 5000m silver medallist Hellen Obiri will lead a starry 1500m field at this year’s Prefontaine Classic that could see the most sub-four-minute times ever recorded at the IAAF Diamond League meeting.
Seven of the 15 entrants already have lifetime bests within four minutes, and when they toe the line on May 27, it will be the most ever in one race in the US.
Kipyegon and Obiri, the two fastest Kenyan women in history over the distance, lead the challenge to surpass the current record for the most sub-four-minute performances at the Pre Classic, which currently stands at five, achieved in 2014.
Kipyegon won the Olympic 1500m title last year with a stunning finish that saw her cover the last two laps in 1:57.2, giving world record-holder Genzebe Dibaba her first loss in almost two years.
The world silver medallist clocked a PB and US all-comers’ record of 3:56.41 when winning the 1500m at last year’s Pre Classic.
Obiri held the Kenyan record and US all-comers’ record before Kipyegon. Last year she won the 5000m at the Pre Classic and went on to take the Olympic silver medal in that event. She ended her season by setting a 5000m PB of 14:25.78.
Laura Muir is the 2016 1500m Diamond Race winner. Last year she reduced the British to 3:55.22, making her the second-fastest woman this millennium and the quickest woman at this year’s Pre Classic.
With a best of 3:56.05, world indoor champion Sifan Hassan is the second fastest in the field. Hassan took the bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 and went on to win the Diamond Race that season.
With her third-place finish in Rio, Jenny Simpson earned USA’s first Olympic medal in this event. It followed on from her world title in 2011 and world silver medal in 2013. She has bettered the four-minute barrier on eight occasions and owns a career 18-9 edge over domestic rival Shannon Rowbury in the 1500m and mile.
Rowbury, the 2009 world bronze medallist, has finished in the top eight at the past three Olympic Games. The 32-year-old holds the North American records for 1500m and 5000m at 3:56.29 and 14:38.92 respectively.
Dawit Seyaum and Gudaf Tsegay were gold and silver medallists respectively at the 2014 World Junior Championships held at Hayward Field and last year they returned to Oregon to take the silver and bronze medals in the 1500m at the World Indoor Championships in Portland.
They will be joined at this year’s Pre Classic by fellow Ethiopian Axumawit Embaye, the 2014 world indoor silver medallist.
USA’s Kate Grace and Shelby Houlihan were both finalists in their first Olympics last year. Grace finished eighth in the 800m, while Houlihan was 11th in the 5000m.
Morocco’s Rababe Arafi was the only woman to reach the finals of both the 800m and 1500m at the 2015 World Championships, finishing fourth and ninth respectively.
Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui was an Olympic finalist last year. During the winter season she won the European under-23 cross-country title and earned 1500m bronze at the European Indoor Championships.
Britain’s two-time Olympic finalist Laura Weightman earned the bronze medal at the 2014 European Championships three weeks after taking silver behind Kipyegon at the Commonwealth Games.
Australia’s Linden Hall returns to the Pre Classic after setting a lifetime best of 4:01.78 when finishing fifth last year.
Report by the iaaf.org.
2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar
5 May – Doha, QAT
13 May – Shanghai, CHN
27 May – Eugene, USA
8 Jun – Rome, ITA
15 Jun – Oslo, NOR
18 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
1 Jul – Paris, FRA
6 Jul – Lausanne, SUI
9 Jul – London, GBR
16 Jul – Rabat, MAR
21 Jul – Monaco, MON
20 Aug – Birmingham, GBR
24 Aug – Zurich, SUI
1 Sep – Brussels, BEL
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