Caster Semenya Leads Fab 5 in Return to Pre Classic Women's 800
Stanford, California – The world’s dominant woman 800-meter runner leads the top 5 from last year’s Diamond League final in the Prefontaine Classic.
The fivesome –who haven’t raced against each other since the Diamond League’s kickoff meet in early May – includes the top two Americans. All five ran in last year’s Pre Classic, which produced a U.S. All-Comers record as well as the fastest ever by an American on U.S. soil.
Caster Semenya, 28, extended her winning streak in the 800 to 30 meets with a convincing 1:54.98 world leader at the Doha Diamond League meet – she hasn’t lost since late 2015. At Rio she became the event’s first two-time Olympic gold medalist and in 2017 joined Prefontaine legend Maria Mutola as the only three-time winner of the World Championships.
Winner of the last three Diamond League 800 titles, Semenya is No. 4 on the all-time world list at 1:54.25. She owns impressive range, adding a bronze in the 1500 at London, then last year cracking both the 4-minute (3:59.92) and 50-second (49.62) barriers in the 1500 and 400. She was named 2018 Woman of the Year by Track & Field News.
Semenya was earlier announced as part of the 3000-meter field but has decided to switch to the 800, where last year she set a U.S. All-Comers record of 1:55.98. Her only races in the U.S. have been Pre Classic 800s, winning the last two years after a 2nd place in 2011.
Ajee’ Wilson, 25, is the fastest American ever by almost a second and last year finished the highest by an American in the Diamond League (2nd) and became the fastest American on U.S. soil at 1:56.18. She has ranked among the world’s top 10 fastest every year since 2014, when she led everyone at 1:57.67 as a 20-year-old.
The New Jersey native continues to dominate the U.S. 800 scene in many ways. She owns American records indoors and out, the first to have both since Mary Slaney in 1985. In majors, she repeated as silver medalist in last year’s World Indoor Championships, and her bronze in the London Worlds matched the only medal by an American (Brenda Martinez 2013). In the T&FN world rankings she trails only 1968 Olympic gold medalist Madeline Manning, who was No. 1 from 1967-69.
This year she added a ninth U.S. title indoors in the 1k and has just one loss all year in any distance – at Doha in the Diamond League 800.
Raevyn Rogers, 22, made her first T&FN world rankings last year at No. 6 in her first season as a post-collegian. She lowered her PR twice last year (now No. 9 American ever at 1:57.69).
The Houston native was undefeated as a collegian, and her final year was among the best in any event. She won The Bowerman Award as the nation’s top collegian in 2017, when she set the collegiate record in the 800 and anchored the 4x400 with a 49.77 split as Oregon completed the first collegiate triple crown for women. She still owns three of the six fastest collegiate times ever.
Natoya Goule, 28, made last year’s T&FN world rankings for the first time at No. 4. The Jamaican record holder has won every national title since 2013, when she first joined the sub-2 club. She was a double NCAA champ in 2013 while at LSU and repeated her outdoor title in 2015 at Clemson.
Habitam Alemu is the youngest in the field at 21. The Ethiopian record holder, who owns the three fastest times ever from her country, ranked No. 5 in the world last year by T&FNafter a No. 7 in 2017. A semifinalist in both the Rio Olympics and London Worlds, she was a finalist in the last two World Indoors, topped by a 4th in 2018.
Ukraine’s Nataliyah Prishchepa, 24, repeated as European gold medalist last year. She is her country’s sixth-fastest ever at 1:58.60 and has seven national titles. This will be her first race on U.S. soil.
Chunyu Wang, 24, won gold in the Asian Games last year and is one of only three Chinese to run sub-2 (1:59.93) since the turn of the century. This will be her first Pre Classic since 2014, a year after she won the Asian Championships as an 18-year-old.
Hanna Green, 24, was NCAA runner-up three times – all to Rogers. The Virginia Tech grad relocated to compete for the Oregon Track Club and last year ran her two fastest times at the U.S. championships, just missing the sub-2 club at 2:00.09. She was runner-up to Wilson at the U.S. indoor 1k in 2:35.40, No. 4 ever by an American.
|Women’s 800 Meters||Personal Best|
|Caster Semenya (South Africa)||1:54.25|
|Ajee’ Wilson (USA)||1:55.61|
|Natoya Goule (Jamaica)||1:56.15|
|Habitam Alemu (Ethiopia)||1:56.71|
|Raevyn Rogers (USA)||1:57.69|
|Nataliyah Prishchepa (Ukraine)||1:58.60|
|Chunyu Wang (China)||1:59.93|
|Hanna Green (USA)||2:00.09|
Tickets for the 45th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic are almost sold-out. Information about sale of Standing Room Only tickets will be posted shortly on the gostanford.com/tickets website.
Media accreditation questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track & field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Pre Classic will be shown live to an international audience by NBC.
Stanford University has a proud track & field tradition that dates back to 1893. In addition to its 922 All-America honors, 64 Olympians, and four NCAA team titles, Stanford has played host to important meets throughout its history, including the 1941 NCAA Championships, 1932 and 1960 U.S. Olympic Trials, and the epic 1962 USA-USSR dual that has been described as “the greatest track meet of all time.” After the facility was renovated in 1996, Cobb Track & Angell Field has been the site of the 2002 and ’03 U.S. Championships and is annually home to the Payton Jordan Invitational, the nation’s premier distance running carnival.
Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is the most inspirational distance runner in American history. He set a national high school 2-mile record (8:41.5) while at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon, that is the fastest ever in a National Federation-sanctioned race. While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4), and never lost a collegiate track 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 21. 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 that year and has been held every year since.