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Pre Classic


May 20, 2013
For Immediate Release




            Eugene, Oregon – Tirunesh Dibaba, the greatest women’s long distance runner ever, will return to Eugene headlining a loaded women’s 5000-meter field at the Prefontaine Classic on June 1 at historic Hayward Field.  The 39th Pre Classic, a member of the elite IAAF Diamond League, presents talent from around the globe in front of America’s best fans.

            Dibaba, 27, is from Ethiopia, home to a long list of distance running legends.  Owner of the 5k world record at 14:11.15, she is also the reigning 2-time Olympic gold medalist at 10k and has collected 5 major gold medals in the 5k or 10k.  Only one other woman has earned even 3 in those events, and Dibaba’s Beijing 5k/10k Olympic gold-medal double is the only one in history.  She has never lost at Hayward Field, twice setting meet records in winning the 2010 Pre 5k and last year’s incredible 10k in 30:24.39, the 2nd fastest ever in the U.S.
            The Pre Classic has assembled an accompanying field worthy of Dibaba.  It includes 7 of the world’s top 10 ranked by either Track & Field News or All-Athletics.com.  The field glows with talent from distance-rich Ethiopia and Kenya, and is fortunately not limited to 3 per country, as are the Olympics and World Championships.
            Kenya’s Viola Kibiwott and Mercy Cherono lead an impressive list of challengers.  Kibiwott was a London finalist, finishing 6th, but she also lowered her 1500-meter best last summer to 3:59.25, making her one of two sub-4 runners in this field.  She won the 2002 World Junior Championships gold at that distance, and was ranked No. 5 in the world at 5k last year by T&FN.  Cherono has 2 World Junior golds (2008 and 2010 at 3k), plus a World Youth gold (2007 at 3k).  She was a finalist at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, finishing 5th, and is currently ranked No. 3 in world by All-Athletics.com.
            Gelete Burka from Ethiopia is the fastest 1500 runner in the field at 3:58.79.  She has a unique pair of gold medals: 1500 at the 2008 World Indoor Championships and the 2006 4k World Cross Country Championships.  Burka is a 4-time Pre Classic winner in the 1500 (including the meet record 3:59.89 in 2009) and in the 5k is the 2nd-fastest in the field with a best of 14:31.20.  She was ranked No. 6 in the world last year by T&FN.

            Another Ethiopian could possibly steal the show.  Buze Diriba won the World Junior gold last year.  Though not (yet?) as fast as Dibaba, who owns the World Junior Record of 14:30.88, she is still eligible for Junior status.  At age 18, she was ranked No. 9 in the world last year for runners of any age by T&FN.
            Two more world-ranked Kenyans grace the field. Sylvia Kibet is a 2-time World Championships silver medalist, and 23-year-old Veronica Nyaruai won the 2006 World Junior and 2005 World Youth 3k gold medals.  They were ranked No. 8 and 10 last year in the world, respectively, by T&FN.
            The U.S. has four world-class entrants in Shannon RowburyLisa UhlKim Conley, and Neely Spence.   Rowbury is a 2-time Olympic finalist at 1500 meters and won the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu.  Uhl is the fastest American in the field at 14:55.74, and the 4-time NCAA champ from Iowa State set her 3k PR last year at Pre (8:52.95).  Conley ran an unforgettable last lap at the Olympic Trials to make the team to London and was the highest ranked American last year. Spence is a 3-time NCAA Division II champion from Shippensburg State and was the highest-finishing American at this year’s World Cross Country Championships. Her father, Steve, was the marathon bronze medalist in the 1991 World Championships.
            Great Britain will be represented by a double Olympic finalist making her first appearance in Eugene.  Julia Bleasdale, currently ranked No. 10 in the world by All-Athletics.com, finished 8th in the Olympic 5k and 10k.
            More young international talent adds to the field’s allure.  Steeplechase specialist Hiwot Ayalew of Ethiopia finished 5th in her specialty at London, but also owns a  14:57.62 PR at 5k.  Shitaye Eshete of Bahrain was a finalist in the London 5k and 10k, finishing 6th in the longer distance.  Ruti Aga of Ethiopia was the silver medalist behind country-mate Diriba at last year’s World Junior Championships, and she also is eligible for Junior status this year.  Azemra Gebru of Ethiopia won the 2011 African Junior Championships gold at 3k.  Kenyan Irene Cheptai has a best of 14:50.99.

            Taken all together, the Prefontaine Classic IAAF Diamond League 5000 Meters will have a deeper field than will the World Championships final in Moscow this summer.
Women’s 5000 Meters Personal Best
Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia) 14:11.15
Gelete Burka (Ethiopia) 14:31.20
Sylvia Kibet (Kenya) 14:31.91
Viola Kibiwott (Kenya) 14:34.86
Mercy Cherono (Kenya) 14:35.13
Veronica Nyaruai (Kenya) 14:44.82
Hiwot Ayalew (Ethiopia) 14.57.62
Irene Cheptai (Kenya) 14:50.99
Buze Diriba (Ethiopia) 14:53.06
Lisa Uhl (USA) 14:55.74
Azemra Gebru (Ethiopia) 14:58.23
Shannon Rowbury (USA) 15:00.51
Julia Bleasdale (Great Britain) 15:02.00
Shitaye Eshete (Bahrain) 15:05.48
Ruti Aga (Ethiopia) 15:13.48
Kim Conley (USA) 15:15.48
Neely Spence (USA) 15:26.51
            Fans can follow the event lineups as all announced fields are posted atPreClassic.com.  The direct link to current start/entry lists is HERE and includes updates to previously announced fields.
            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 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.
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