28 May, 2017

The World's Best Once Again Shine Bright at the Pre Classic

Action both on the track and in the field made for an exciting weekend of competition at the Prefontaine Classic Friday evening and Saturday, marking the third stop in this year's IAAF Diamond League.

Taylor soars, Crouser throws to memorable performances

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EUGENE - Action both on the track and in the field made for an exciting weekend of competition at the Prefontaine Classic Friday evening and Saturday, marking the third stop in this year's IAAF Diamond League. 

Setting the tone on Saturday, local favorite Ryan Crouser and two-time Olympic champion Christian Taylor were simply amazing, each putting up memorable performances at historic Hayward Field. 

For Taylor, another epic battle between himself and fellow American Will Claye took place. Taylor jumped to an early lead with a leap of 17.82m on his first jump, a mark Claye would match on his fourth attempt, leaving the two athletes in a tie with three jumps to go for Taylor and two left for Claye.

With the crowd on their feet, Taylor got everyone in the stadium clapping for his fourth attempt, and as he floated down the runway, his rhythm was in step. Hitting the board, Taylor exploded into the air, soaring, kicking and landing at 18.11m, taking over the lead and recording the third farthest jump in history, only behind Taylor's own American record of 18.21m and the world record of 18.29m.

Crouser, going head-to-head against his fellow Rio medalists Tom Walsh and Joe Kovacs, threw 21.89m and 21.88m on his first and third throws. It wasn't until his fifth throw that he unleashed a 22.43m toss, which not only kept him in first place but also broke the meeting and Hayward Field record. Crouser led a quartet of men who finished with finishing marks over 21 meters.

Just as things were heating up in the field events, action on the track was firing up the crowd. In the mens 5000m, Olympic champion Mo Farah used his patented kick to edge the field, nearly eclipsing the 13-minute mark with a 13:00.70 time. Farah, challenged for much of the race by a strong contingent of competition, flew over the final 400 meters to show he's still the class of world-wide distance running. 

Elsewhere on the track, Caster Semenya outlasted Margaret Wambui in the women's 800m, as the two battled to a 1:57.78-1:57.88 finish. In the men's 100 meters, Ronnie Baker upset a strong and talented field with a fantastic mark of 9.86. While the +2.4 wind reading keeps the mark from being a world-leading time, beating the likes of Justin Gatlin, Andre De Grasse and others sets Baker up as the man to beat in upcoming IAAF Diamond League action. 

In the field events, Maria Lasitskene, competing as a neutral athlete, won the women's high jump on a stacked field of competition in a world-leading mark of 2.03m, setting a new Hayward Field record. Perfect through 1.95m, Lasitskene missed on her first attempt at 1.98m, but made the second, raising the bar to 2.03m. After missing her first two attempts, Lasitskene wowed the crowd by ever so slightly clearing the bar, bringing the crowd to their feet. 

In the short hurdle events, Jasmine Stowers and Omar McLeod won the day with victories in the 100m and 110m hurdles. Stowers beat the field with her winning time of 12.59, as Americans swept places 1-7. For McLeod, he challenged the 13-second barrier yet again, coming up just short with a 13.01 finish. 

Back on the track, Tori Bowie got off to an impressive start in the women's 200 meters and used strong turn running to run away to a 21.77 world-leading mark. Not only did Bowie beat reigning Olympic gold and silver medalists Elaine Thompson and Dafne Schippers, but also edged Rio 400m champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo and the Allyson Felix.

Rounding out the weekend's competition, Kenyan Ronald Kwemoi won the Bowerman Mile, outlasting a tremendous field to win 3:49.04-3:49.08 over countryman Elijah Manangoi.

On Friday evening, Brittney Reese and Tatsiana Khaladovich won their respective IAAF Diamond League events. Reese jumped a world-leading 7.01m mark to win the women's long jump, once again showing her dominance in the event on a big stage, while Khaladovich upset an impressive field in the women's javelin with a 66.30m winning throw. 

On the track, Celliphine Chespol and Genzebe Dibaba eah put on a show in front of the Hayward Field faithful. Chespol ran much of the women's 3000m steeplechase with fellow countrywoman Beatrice Chepkoech and world record holder Ruth Jebet. Through six laps the athletes ran stride for stride, well clear of the rest of the field. On the second-to-last water jump, Chespol led, hit the water, then the back of her right shoe came off, forcing her to stop. 

With little time to make up, Chespol used the next 150 meters to catch back up to Chepkoech and Jebet, then used the surge of momentum to move by her competition. Retaking the lead, pushing the pace and coming back from behind put the fans in attendance on their feet, as Chespol ran a new Hayward Field record in 8:58.78. Chepkoech and Jebet finished second and third.

For Dibaba, a world record attempt on her sister's 5000m world record was the focus, and while the early pacing was spot on, by 3000m it was clear the Ethiopian standout was going to be hard pressed to break the record. Despite falling off pace, Dibaba continued to drive, never looking back - ultimately finishing in 14:25.22.

The 2017 Prefontaine Classic once again brought the best athletes in track and field to Eugene, putting on a show for those in attendance and the countless fans across the world tuning in. A nearly unending string of personal bests, world-leading marks and upset performances made this edition of the IAAF Diamond League meeting one for the ages.