13 April, 2017

World Record Holder Jebet Returns to Pre Classic

  • Ruth Jebet - Prefontaine Classic - PhotoRun.net

The steeplechaser who won Olympic gold and stunned with a world record as a 19-year-old will return to lead an amazing race at the Prefontaine Classic.

April 13, 2017
For Immediate Release 

World Record Holder Jebet Returns to Pre Classic

(The 43rd Prefontaine Classic, a member of the IAAF Diamond League of elite international track & field meets, will be held May 26-27, 2017 at historic Hayward Field.)

            Eugene, Oregon – The steeplechaser who won Olympic gold and stunned with a world record as a 19-year-old will return to lead an amazing race at the Prefontaine Classic.

            Returning as well is the American record holder who has run nothing but PRs at  Pre.
            Many eyes will be fixed on Ruth Jebet, now all of 20.  As a 19-year-old, the Kenyan-born runner re-wrote the record book for Bahrain, which she has represented since May 2013.  She cracked the sub-9 barrier first in last year’s dramatic Pre Classic, winning with a crowd-pleasing homestretch by just .04 seconds.

            Jebet left no drama the rest of summer, never losing and eventually setting the world record (8:52.78) at the Paris Diamond League meet after winning Olympic gold by nearly 10 seconds with yet another sub-9 win in Rio.  She owns three of history’s four sub-9 clockings.

            Her No. 1 in last year’s world ranking by Track & Field News was not her first appearance in the Top 10.  Incredibly, in 2014 she was No. 5 when she was just 17 – that year she won the IAAF World Junior gold at Hayward Field.
            Emma Coburn, 26, earned the first American Olympic medal in this event with a bronze last summer in Rio, lowering the American record she set in last year’s Pre Classic.  She is a five-time U.S. champion, giving her the most steeple titles, and she has never lost since her first attempt as a 20-year-old in 2011.  Her dominance among Americans has elevated her to be among the world’s very best, ranking No. 2 in the world by T&FN in 2014 and No. 3 last year – the two highest appearances by an American.

            Coburn has shown she is not afraid to take charge, even in the world’s biggest races.  In Rio she saw Jebet and two Kenyans ahead of her with two laps to go.  Coburn “made the move a lifetime” according to T&FN and ran the fastest over that stretch to secure bronze, with silver just half a second away.  A year earlier in Beijing at the World Championships, she was in the lead on the bell lap and in a frantic finish she wound up 5th, despite appearing to be cut off.

            Coburn will be making her fifth overall appearance at the Pre Classic, where she has set a lifetime best on every occasion, including her still-standing 1500 best of 4:05.10 in 2015.  She owns nine of the 10 fastest U.S. times in the steeple – the only other is a former American record set by her Colorado training partner, Jenny Simpson.

            The 2017 season has seen Coburn already in top form, leading off a star-studded distance medley relay in January that clocked the fastest indoor time in history, 10:40.31.
            Beatrice Chepkoech, 25, made a huge breakthrough at last year’s Pre Classic.  In her first-known 3k steeple, she ran a world-class 9:17.41 – more than 20 seconds faster than her 3k best without hurdles.  The Kenyan had shown a glimpse of steeple greatness a year earlier, running the second-fastest time ever in the rarely contested 2k version.

            She was 4th in the Rio Olympics – in medal position with two laps to go before Coburn made a decisive move that Chepkoech couldn’t match.  Prior to last year she was primarily a middle distance runner, and her 1500 best of 4:03.28 is the fastest in this field.

            Sofia Assefa, 29, is the Ethiopian record holder at 9:09.00 and the former Pre Classic record holder.  The 2012 Olympic bronze medalist is also the only woman steepler to rank among the world’s top 10 in each of the last eight years by T&FN – the last seven among the top 5.  She was 5th in last year’s deep Pre Classic after winning in 2014 with a meet record and a pair of runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2012.  Assefa is the only runner to compete in all four Pre Classic women’s steeple races.

            Virginia Nyambura, 23, won the 2015 Diamond League Trophy, the youngest winner at 21 in this event until Jebet last year (19).  The Kenyan won the 2010 Youth Olympic gold in the 2k steeple and in 2015 earned her first Top 10 world ranking from T&FN, finishing No. 3.  She also clocked the fastest-ever 2k steeple time in 2015 at 6:02.16, just ahead of Chepkoech.  Though not selected to the Kenyan Olympic team last year, Nyambura was the third-highest ranked Kenyan in last year’s T&FN world rankings at No. 7.

            Genevieve LaCaze, 27, made two Olympic finals last year, the first ever for an Australian in either the steeple or 5000.  Her best finish came in the steeple (9th place) which matched her position in the T&FN world rankings.  She set PRs at every distance she raced last year.

            Less than a month after Rio, LaCaze ran in the Diamond League finals in both the steeple and 5k, albeit in different meets.  The Florida grad still has fans in the Southeastern Conference shaking their heads after winning the steeple, 5k and 1500 at the 2012 SEC Championships, a feat unmatched before or since.  She completed that season as NCAA runner-up in the steeple and by making her first Olympic team in London.

            Gesa-Felicitas Krause, 24, has made every world major final since she was a 19-year-old in 2011, including two Olympics and topped by a World Championships bronze in 2015.  She set a pair of PRs last year, first winning the European Championships in Amsterdam, then taking 6th in Rio.

            An incredible collection of American steeplers is included.  They are the fastest ever besides the Colorado pair of Coburn and Simpson, and only one has ever raced in the Pre Classic.  Two, along with Coburn, were the first American threesome to make an Olympic final.

            The two Olympians from Rio were also NCAA champions at Hayward Field.  Courtney Frerichs won last year for New Mexico, while Colleen Quigley claimed the 2015 title for Florida State.  They finished 8th and 11th, respectively, in Rio last year.

            The 2014 NCAA champ also won at Hayward Field and is also 24 years old, as Michigan State grad Leah O’Connor can add an indoor NCAA mile title to the mix, from 2015.  She is the only one of the three to have run in the Pre Classic already, finishing 6th last year in a PR 9:18.85.

            Stephanie Garcia was NCAA runner-up for Virginia to Coburn in 2011.  In 2015 she was ranked No. 10 in the world by T&FN – the only mention by an American not named Coburn since 2009.

Women’s 3000m SteeplechasePersonal Best
Ruth Jebet (Bahrain)8:52.78
Emma Coburn (USA)9:07.63
Sofia Assefa (Ethiopia)9:09.00
Beatrice Chepkoech (Kenya)9:10.86
Virginia Nyambura (Kenya)9:13.85
Genevieve LaCaze (Australia)9:14.28
Gesa-Felicitas Krause (Germany)9:18.41
Leah O’Connor (USA)9:18.85
Stephanie Garcia (USA)9:19.48
Colleen Quigley (USA)9:20.00
Courtney Frerichs (USA)9:20.92

            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 43rd annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 26-27 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now at www.GoDucks.com as well as from 1-800-WEBFOOT.  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 six 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 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.