16 May, 2018

Gatlin & Coleman Lead an American 1-2 Punch in Pre Classic 100

  • Justin Gatlin - Prefontaine Classic - PhotoRun.net

Who will the world’s top sprinter be this year? With a track friendly to fast times and eight lanes filled with prime contenders, the Prefontaine Classic will go a long way towards deciding that honor.

(The 44th Pre Classic, a member of the IAAF Diamond League of elite international track & field meets, will be held May 25-26 at historic Hayward Field.)

Eugene, Oregon – Who will the world’s top sprinter be this year? With a track friendly to fast times and eight lanes filled with prime contenders, the Prefontaine Classic will go a long way towards deciding that honor.

Christian Coleman was last year’s fastest on the watch at 9.82 and this year obliterated the indoor world record at 60 meters. He was a whisker behind Justin Gatlin at last year’s World Championships, where legend Usain Bolt was just a bronze medalist in a dazzling finish.

Christian Coleman, 22, is lightning quick and ready to make his 2018 debut in the century after thrashing the 60 meters indoors with the three fastest times ever plus winning the World Indoor gold. The Georgia native won The Bowerman Award last year as the nation’s top collegian. He won a rare sprint double/double of NCAA titles – the 60/200 indoors and 100/200 outdoors. The only other man to do so was Gatlin, who saw Coleman break all of his Tennessee school records.

Justin Gatlin, 36, is a rarity in sprinting, racing with the best at an age when most are retired. He dialed a perfect race last year in London, winning the World Championships with his fastest of the year at 9.92 to become the oldest gold medalist in the event by two years. A year earlier in Rio he was silver medalist – the oldest medalist again by two years and the best by an American of any age since a 22-year-old Gatlin was gold medalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Gatlin has both the most Pre Classic wins (five) and Diamond League Trophies (three) in this event. His career collection of major medals in all events totals 15. He has been the top-ranked American for the last six years by Track & Field News.

Great Britain’s Chijindu Ujah, 24, won last year’s Diamond League Trophy in Zürich and was ranked No. 4 in the world by T&FN – the highest by a Briton since Dwain Chambers was No. 1 in 2002. “CJ” missed making the London 100 final by one spot but a week later led off the British 4x100 with a lead they wouldn’t relinquish en route to a national record 37.47 that was just ahead of the American team featuring Gatlin and Coleman.

Reece Prescod, 22, didn’t even make the UK 4x100 quartet last year, but the national champion was the only Brit in the 100 final in London. He PRed in the heats at 10.03 and nearly matched it last week in Shanghai, winning the event’s first Diamond League race at 10.04 in the rain.

China’s Bingtian Su, 27, is the closest anyone has come to catching Coleman this year, earning his first individual medal with a silver in the World Indoor 60. In 2015, he finished 3rd in the Pre Classic, becoming the first from China to run sub-10 at 9.99. It was a time he equaled in the semifinals at the World Championships in Beijing, qualifying him for the final to the crowd’s obvious delight. He later ran the third leg on the silver medal-winning 4x100 team in Beijing as well as the 4tg place teams in Rio (China’s highest finish in the Olympics) and last year’s Worlds. He looked like a repeat winner in the Shanghai Diamond League 100 last week but was edged by Prescod.

Ben Youssef Meité, 31, was a finalist in the Rio Olympics, Côte d’Ivoire’s first in the 100. He was runner-up to Ujah in the Diamond League final last year as both ran 9.97. He was world ranked No. 8 last year by T&FN after being No. 7 in 2016, the year he set his national record of 9.96.

American Ronnie Baker, 24, won last year’s Pre Classic with a wind-aided 9.86. This year he is the world’s fastest with a PR 9.97 win at the Mt. SAC Relays a week after joining Gatlin and Coleman on the season’s best 4x100 team thus far at 38.08. Baker, a two-time NCAA Indoor 60 champ while at Texas Christian, won the U.S. Indoor 60 title last year and was bronze medalist in March behind Coleman at the World Indoor.

Isiah Young, 28, is better known in the 200, in which he made his first major final at last summer’s World Championships and his first U.S. national team for the 2012 Olympics, also in London. This year the former NCAA All-American at Mississippi has focused more on the 100, clocking a wind-aided 9.92 and winning the Drake Relays. He set his legal best of 9.97 in the heats of last year’s U.S. championships.

Men’s 100 MetersPersonal Best
Justin Gatlin (USA)9.74 
Christian Coleman (USA)9.82 
Chijindu (CJ) Ujah (Great Britain)9.96 
Ben Youssef Meité (Côte d’Ivoire)9.96 
Ronnie Baker (USA)9.97 
Isiah Young (USA)9.97 
Bingtian Su (China)9.99 
Reece Prescod (Great Britain)10.03 

Fans can follow the event lineups as all announced fields are posted at PreClassic.com. The direct link to current start/entry lists is HERE and will include updates to all announced fields.

Tickets for the 44th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 25-26 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available at www.ticketmaster.com, as well as at 1-800-WEBFOOT or in person at the Autzen Stadium ticket window. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience by NBC.

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. The Pre Classic’s results score has rated No. 1 or No. 2 in the world in each of the last seven years by All-Athletics.com, the official data partner of the Diamond League.

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 18 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.