Gay, Lagat, Cantwell, Suhr, Demus & Pierce lead strong U.S. contingent at Nike Prefontaine Classic

06-30-2010

Contact:
Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field
317-713-4690

INDIANAPOLIS - Tyson Gay, Bernard Lagat, Christian Cantwell, Jenn Suhr, Lashinda Demus and Anna Pierce will lead many of the world's top athletes Saturday at the 2010 Nike Prefontaine Classic at historic Hayward Field on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene.

The Nike Prefontaine Classic, featuring no fewer than 41 Olympic Games or World Championships gold medalists, is the fourth and final event of the 2010 USATF Outdoor Visa Championship Series. It will be televised LIVE by NBC from 4:30-6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The Nike Prefontaine Classic is a member of the prestigious new IAAF Samsung Diamond League series consisting of 14 of the greatest invitational track meets in the world www.diamondleague.com.

Gay back in action; Jeter among the favorites in Visa Women's 100m

American 100m record holder and 2009 World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Tyson Gay has been battling a sore hamstring of late but that won't stop him from competing Saturday in the men's 200m at Hayward Field.

No stranger to Eugene, in the 100m quarterfinals at the 2008 Olympic Trials, Gay set the then American record of 9.77 seconds, which broke Maurice Greene's previous standard of 9.79 set in Athens in 1999. Gay set the current AR last year in Shanghai when he stopped the clocks in 9.69, which is the second-fastest time ever.

Challengers to Gay include 2008 Beijing Olympic Games bronze medalist and 2010 U.S. 100m champ Walter Dix and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford.

The Visa Women's 100 meters also features a stellar field headlined by two-time World Outdoor Championships bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter, who owns the third-fastest time in the world this year of 10.94. Another American to watch for is 2010 USA Outdoor Champs runner-up LaShaunte'a Moore.

Jamaican stars in this event include Olympic and World champion Shelly-Ann Fraser, Olympic 200m gold medalist Veronica Campbell-Brown and Beijing Olympic silver medalist Sherone Simpson. Also look for Trinidad star Kelly-Ann Baptiste, who owns the fastest time in the world this year of 10.84.

Lagat looks for third Nike Men's Bowerman Mile victory

2010 USA Outdoor Championships 5,000m winner and 2007 World Outdoor champion Bernard Lagat will look to tie two records in the Nike Men's Bowerman Mile on Saturday. A win by Lagat will equal the record held by University of Oregon legend Joachim Cruz, who won this event three times. In addition, if Lagat breaks the 4-minute barrier for the sixth time in this event on Saturday, he'll trail only Canada's Kevin Sullivan who leads with seven.

American challengers to Lagat include 2008 Olympians Lopez Lomong and Lionel Manzano, who staged a spirited battle down the stretch in finishing 1-2 last weekend at the USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Americans will have their hands full in facing 2008 Olympic 1,500m silver medalist Asbel Kiprop of Kenya, and 2009 World Championships 1,500m gold medalist and 800m bronze medalist Yusuf Kamel of Bahrain.

Solinsky & Tegenkamp face tough international field in Nike Men's 5,000m

2009 World Outdoor Championships 12th place finisher Chris Solinsky will be a favorite in the Nike Men's 5,000m after setting the U.S. 10,000m record of 26:59.60 in Palo Alto, Calif., on May 1. His performance in that event is the fastest time in the world this year.

Solinsky, who owns the second-fastest 5,000m time (12:56.66) this year by an American, will face 2009 World Outdoor Champs 10,000m fourth-place finisher Imane Merga of Ethiopia and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who finished fifth in the 5,000m in Berlin and owns the fastest time in the world this season of 12:51.21.

2008 Olympic finalist and 2009 U.S. 5,000m champion Matt Tegenkamp, who finished fourth at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships and eighth last year in Berlin, could also be a factor.

Cantwell & Kanter headline men's throwing events

Led by reigning world and U.S. champion Christian Cantwell, the Visa Men's Shot Put features seven of the top 10 ranked throwers from last season.

Reigning World Outdoor champion Christian Cantwell entered this year ranked #1 in the world by Track & Field News, and thus far in 2010 he's continued his dominance. Cantwell, who won his third career World Indoor title in March, posted the longest throw in the world this year with his toss of 22.35 meters/73 feet 4 inches earlier this month in St. Charles, Mo.

Cantwell's domestic challengers include 2007 World Outdoor champion, 2006 World Indoor gold medalist and 2010 USA Outdoor Champs runner-up Reese Hoffa, two-time Olympic Games silver medalist and 2005 World Outdoor champion Adam Nelson and 2009 USA Indoor champion Dan Taylor. Also keep an eye on 2008 NCAA Outdoor champion Cory Martin, who owns the second best throw in the world this year (22.10m/72-6.25) and two-time NCAA Outdoor champion Ryan Whiting, who owns the third and fourth best throws globally this season.

2008 Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland also is in the field and could make things difficult for the Americans.

2008 Olympic gold medalist and 2007 World champion Gerd Kanter of Estonia will lead the men's discus throwers that include two-time Olympic gold medalist Virgilijus Alekna from Lithuania, 2004 Olympic silver medalist Zoltan Kovago of Hungary and American Casey Malone, who won his second-consecutive U.S. title last weekend and ended the 2009 campaign ranked #6 in the world.

Suhr favored in women's pole vault

2008 Olympic Games silver medalist Jenn Suhr captured her fifth consecutive USA Outdoor women's pole vault crown last weekend with a world-leading clearance of 4.89m/16-0.5.

The #2 performer all-time in her event, Suhr will be challenged by 2009 World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Chelsea Johnson, Fabiana Murer of Brazil, who owns the second and third highest clearances this outdoor season, and 2006 NCAA Outdoor champion Lacy Janson, who finished fourth at the 2010 USA Outdoor Championships.

Outstanding field featured in women's 800m

One of the most anticipated events of this year's Pre Classic is the women's 800 meters headlined by American Anna Pierce, who ended the 2009 season ranked #2 in the world in this event by Track & Field News.

Pierce, who won the 1,500m last weekend at the 2010 USA Outdoor Championships and is the reigning World Athletics Finals champ, will be challenged by Beijing Olympic gold medalist Pamela Jelimo of Kenya and her countrywoman Janeth Jepkosgei, who won the silver medal in Beijing and gold at the 2007 World Outdoor Championships. Also keep an eye on 2009 Pre Classic champion Maggie Vessey, who began the 2010 campaign ranked #6 in the world by T&FN.

Symmonds looks to win again at Hayward Field

The always enthusiastic Hayward Field crowd will be on their feet cheering for hometown favorite and 2008 Olympian Nick Symmonds in the men's 1,000 meters.

Symmonds, who won his third consecutive USA Outdoor 800m title last week in Des Moines, ended the 2009 season ranked #10 in the world (#1 U.S.) after finishing sixth at the World Outdoor Championships in Berlin. Symmonds will face former Pre Classic champion Alfred Yego of Kenya, who is ranked #3 in the world and Abubaker Kaki of Sudan, who is ranked #5 globally.

Oliver, Demus highlight strong hurdles fields

2008 Olympic Games bronze medalist David Oliver posted the fastest men's 110m hurdles time in the world this year in winning the second USA Outdoor title of his career in 12.93 seconds in Des Moines.

Challengers to Oliver include two-time Olympic Games and three-time World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Terrence Trammell, along with two-time World Outdoor Championships bronze medalist and 2008 Olympic Games silver medalist David Payne. Ryan Wilson and Ronnie Ash, who finished second and third respectively at the 2010 USA Outdoor Championships, will also be in the hunt.

The women's 400m hurdles features an interesting battle between two-time World Outdoor Championships silver medalist Lashinda Demus, who will square off against Beijing Olympic Games silver medalist and 2004 Olympic Games fourth-place finisher Sheena Tosta. Demus posted the fastest time in the world this year with her win in Rome on June 10 in 52.82. 2009 Berlin World Champs bronze medalist Josanne Lucas of Trinidad also is in the field.

Record holders featured in women's throws

2008 Olympian Kara Patterson, who set the American record in winning the javelin last weekend at the USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, will headline an impressive list of performers in the women's javelin and hammer throw.

Patterson, who upped the U.S. javelin record to 66.67m/218-9, which is the seventh-best throw in the world this year, will do battle with world record holder Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic and Russia's Mariya Abakumova, who won the bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships. A two-time NCAA champion while at the University of Oregon, Rachel Yurkovich will be the rooting favorite of the Hayward faithful after ending the 2009 season ranked #1 in the U.S. by T&FN.

2009 World Outdoor Championships finalist, 2010 USA champion and this year's USATF Women's Indoor Visa Championship Series winner Amber Campbell will face world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland in the hammer throw. Former world record holder Tatyana Lysenko of Russia is in the field in addition to Betty Heidler of Germany, who was the silver medalist at the 2009 World Championships and is a two-time winner at Pre.

Reigning USA champ leads women's steeplechase field

Lisa Aguilera, who has been ranked in the top five in the U.S. in seven of the last eight years, won her second career U.S. women's steeplechase title and first since 2006 last weekend in Des Moines when she crossed the finish line in 9:53.59.

Aguilera will face 2010 Nationals runner-up and 2008 Olympic Trials fourth-place finisher Nicole Bush, and former Penn State University standout Bridget Franek, who owns the fastest time by an American this season of 9:38.86 set in Eugene in winning the 2010 NCAA title. Reigning world champion Marta Dominguez of Spain, 2009 World Champs runner-up Yuliya Zarudneve of Russia and Berlin third-place finisher Milcah Chemos of Kenya will provide a stiff challenge to the Americans.

For more information on the 2010 Nike Prefontaine Classic and the USATF Visa Championship Series, visit: www.visachampionshipseries.com.