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Rivalries abound at Prefontaine Classic

EUGENE - Rivals in multiple disciplines will battle for supremacy and points in the Diamond League standings in Eugene, Ore. this Friday and Saturday at the Nike Prefontaine Classic, the first individual event of the 2011 Visa Championship Series and the first U.S. stop of the 2011 Samsung Diamond League.

Where to Watch
The Nike Prefontaine Classic will be shown live on NBC from 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. ET. Universal Sports will also feature a live webcast of Saturday’s events starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Nike will be providing live coverage of the Pre Classic 10,000m on Friday night, beginning at 8:40pm PST on To add your voice to the broadcast, or to have specific questions addressed during the race or interviews send in your tweets with #PreClassic or post comments directly on the chatbox.

Solinsky vs Rupp
With the late entry of American Record holder Chris Solinsky to the Distance Night in Eugene 10,000m race, and Oregon alum Galen Rupp, the two two fastest Americans of all-time will face a stout field of competitors under the lights at Hayward Field. International competitors include Paul Kipngetich Tanui who has the second fastest time in the world this year (27:18.58) and Asbel Kiprop, the gold medalist in the 1500m from the 2008 Olympics.

Dibaba vs the World
Tirunesh Dibaba “the baby faced destroyer” has been ranked number one in the world in the 5,000m for 111 weeks of her career, has won twelve Olympic and World medals, and has held four World Records. While Dibaba is the undeniable favorite, the world is bringing some of the best 10,000m runners to Eugene to fill out a very competitive field. Linet Masai has the fastest time of the field for 2011 in 14:32.87, and former American Record holder in this event Shalane Flanagan could possibly take the record back from Molly Huddle in Flanagan’s 2011 debut over 5,000m.

Jeter vs Fraser-Price
In the women’s 100m, the reigning Diamond League champion Carmelita Jeter faces Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price, the reigning Olympic and World Champion. The rivals have not faced each other since the 2009 World Championships, where Fraser-Price evened their career match-ups at seven wins apiece. The duo will also have to contend with Jamaicans Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson and Americans Lauryn Williams, Marshevet Myers and Alexandria Anderson.

Oliver vs Xiang
David Oliver returns to Track Town USA in the Nike men’s 110m hurdles after equalling the American Record at last year’s Pre Classic in 12.90. Oliver went on to have an undefeated season in 2010; however, his streak was brought to an end at the Shanghai Diamond League Meet on May 15, when the Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang returned from injury to run 13.07 to Oliver’s 13.18. Also in the field are Ryan Wilson, Ronnie Ash and decathlete Ashton Eaton.

Felix vs Richards
Allyson Felix is the current world leader in both the 200m and 400m, and the reigning Diamond League champion in both events as well. In the Visa women’s 400m, Felix will face off with Sanya Richards-Ross who is the reigning World Champion in the quarter mile, but she spent most of 2010 sidelined due to injury. Speaking of her competitor, Allyson Felix said, “I think [Sanya Richards-Ross] is racing into shape and will be the main force once again.” Also in the field are Natasha Hastings, Debbie Dunn and Amantle Montsho of Botswana.

USA vs Jamaica
The USA vs Jamaica rivalry will come to a head in the Men’s 100m with four of the top ten 2010 athletes in the world, as ranked by Track & Field News, taking to the track. The Jamaicans bring Steve Mullings, Nesta Carter and Michael Frater to face the USA’s Mike Rodgers, Darvis Patton and Justin Gatlin.

USA vs the World
The women’s 800m field includes five of the top ten half-milers in the world according to the 2010 Track & Field News rankings. The American women have seen a growth of middle distance talent in recent years, evident by the strong field of Alysia (Johnson) Montano, Phoebe Wright, Anna Pierce, Maggie Vessey and Erica Moore. However, the 800m race will not be easily won, Kenia Sinclair of Jamaica has already run under 1:59 this year,last year’s second-best in the world, Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya will run her debut 800 of the year in Eugene, and the defending World Champion, Caster Semenya will make her first Diamond League apperance.

Veterans vs Veterans
In the men’s 400m , four of the top American quarter-milers in the last decade, Jeremy Wariner, Bershawn Jackson, Angelo Taylor and David Neville bring a combined tally of twelve Olympic and World medals in the 400m and 400m hurdles to the field. The top foreign competitor is Michael Bingham of Great Britain who finished 2010 ranked sixth in the world. Also entered in the event is Oscar Pistorius of South Africa who is a double amputee paralympian who has been dubbed “the blade runner.”

USA vs Europe
In the women’s shot put, the two best throwers of Belarus, Nadzeya Ostapchuk and Natallia Mikhnevich will face off with the top two American Throwers, Jillian Camarena-Williams and Michelle Carter. While Ostapchuk threw two meters farther than Camarena-Williams in 2010, Williams set a new personal best and indoor American Record this year of 19.87/65/2.25 and Ostapchuck is just opening her season in Eugene.

Eugene vs the World
In the men’s 800m, Oregon Track Club athletes Nick Symmonds, Andrew Wheating and Tyler Mulder will fight with the world’s best for the top spot on the podium. Symonds has won the Pre Classic twice and at this early point in the season he has run 1:45.09 and is tied in third on the U.S. list. Wheating set his personal best 1,500m time of 3:51.74 at this meet last year, and Tyler Mulder recently knocked more than a second of of his personal best in 1:44.83. Americans Khadevis Robinson, who recently won the Rome Diamond League event, and Leo Manzano, who ended 2010 as the U.S.’s best miler will also be in contention for the podium. This race certainly will not be a cakewalk for the Americans. Abubaker Kaki, and Boaz Lalang both ran in the 1:42’s last year to end 2010 ranked second and third in the world will be vying for the top spot in Eugene.

Clear Favorites
Other races are shaping up with clear favorites. In the BMW men’s 200m Walter Dix enters as the reigning Diamond League champion, and owns the fastest time of the field this year (20.05). Dix has already run in the low 20-second range early in the season with his win at the Doha Diamond League meet, while his nearest competitors in the field have only run in the mid 20s.

Dwight Phillips is the favorite in the Visa men’s long jump. Phillips has been ranked number one in the world for five years, and boasts a personal best of 8.74/28-8.25. However, Phillips is off to a shaky start in 2011, as he finished fourth at the Shanghai Diamond League event. Phillips’ top competitor is Irving Saldadino of Panama who has leapt to 8.30m this year and is currently number two on the world list.

In the women’s pole vault, the Fabiana Murer of Brazil finished her 2010 campaign ranked number 1 in the world, and was less than an inch shy of clearing 16-feet. Murer is the current world leader in the event clearing 4.65m with her win last week in Rio de Janeiro. American Kylie Hutson is her closest competitor on the current world list having already set a personal best of 4.60. Over the past four years, Hutson has improved every year, gaining half a meter overall. Jenn Suhr will open her outdoor season, after clearing an American Record height of 4.86/15-11.25 this indoor season.

Jesse Williams is the favorite in the men’s high jump. Williams of the Oregon Track Club will have the fans behind him as he has been jumping well this year with a Diamond League win in Doha and a win of 2.34m/7-8 at Mt. SAC in April.

In the men’s Discus, Robert Harting of Germany has thrown a meter further than the rest of the field.The top American entrant is Ian Waltz who is one of three Americans who has thrown farther then 64-meters this year.

In the women’s triple jump, Olha Saladuha of Ukraine enters the competition ranked number three in the world in 2010. Blessing Ufodiama is the top U.S. jumper in the line-up, having the current U.S. leading mark of 13.92/45-8.

In the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, Paul Koech has the number one ranking in the world from 2010 and has the second fastest time in the world this year (8:02.42). The top American in the field is Billy Nelson who has run 8:22.44.

Up for Grabs
The women’s 400m hurdles is anyone’s race, as the current world leader, Melaine Walker of Jamaica faces the number one and two ranked hurdlers of 2010, Lashinda Demus of the U.S. and Kaliese Spencer of Jamaica. Sheena Tosta of the U.S. could also be in the mix with the second fastest time run by an American this year.

The men’s shot put could see nearly any of the entrants on the podium at the end of the day. The top seven men atop the current world list are entered in the competition. Reese Hoffa, Canadian Dylan Armstrong and Andrey Mikhenevich own the three farthest throws in the world this year.

The women’s 1500m will see current world leader Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, Siham Hilali of Morocco and Nancy Langat of Kenya as top contenders. The top American is Christin Wurth-Thomas who ran 4:03.72 at the Rome Diamond League event last week.

The women’s javelin features the three women with the farthest throws in the world this year: Martina Ratej, Mariya Abakumova and Barbora Spotakova. The top American in the field is American Record holder Kara Patterson.

The Nike men’s 2 mile will feature the first and second men atop the 3,000m world list, Yenew Alamirew of Ethiopia and Edwin Soi of Kenya. Also battling for the podium will be Tariku Bekele, Mo Farah and Isaiah Kiplangat Koech. The top American in the field is Matt Tegenkamp who has run 13:16.27 in the 5,000 and 3:40.06 in the 1500m.

The last event of the night, The Bowerman Mile, will see top contenders Asbel Kiprop , Haron Keitany, Mekonnen Gebremedhin, Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku, Silas Kiplapagat who have all run 1500m in the 3:31-3:32 range this year. Nick Willis and Will Leer have the top marks for the mile distance with sub-4 performances for each this year. Russell Brown is the top American in the field, as the current U.S. leader for 1500m in 3:35.70.

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