With an eye toward this summer’s Olympic Trials, the fields for the women’s 100-meter hurdles and men’s 100-meter dash at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., this year are packed.
Former University of Kentucky star Kendra Harrison, who has the top three times in the world this year, headlines the 100 hurdles. The 23-year-old completed the event in a world-best 12.36 seconds back in April. She’s coming off a 12.42-second effort in the Cayman Islands two weeks ago. She also ran a 12.56 at the Drake Relays.
Saturday’s field for the 100 hurdles also includes Brianna Rollins, the American-record holder at 12.26 seconds. Her top time this year is 12.65, second fastest in the field. Great Britain’s Tiffany Porter, Olympic gold medalist Dawn Harper-Nelson, Jasmin Stowers (who ran a 12.35 last year), Sharika Nelvis (12.34 last year) and two-time world indoors hurdle champion Nia Ali will also be competing.
The men’s 100-yard dash will include former Lafayette standout Tyson Gay. He and fellow American star Justin Gatlin will face Jamaican Asafa Powell, the former world record holder, in this weekend’s meet at Hayward Field, the only U.S. stop for the international Diamond League series.
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For many American athletes, the Pre is part of the preparation for this summer’s trials, which will also be held at Hayward. The top three finishers at the trials will be part of the team that goes to the Rio Olympics in August.
That it’s on home soil is a bonus for Gatlin.
“We don’t get to run a lot in the U.S.,” he said. “You have to take advantage of times you run in the U.S., especially when it’s televised, for your friends and family and fans to watch.”
However, in the past week, several high-profile U.S. athletes have withdrawn from the Pre, including Allyson Felix, a three-time world champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, who pulled out because of an ankle injury. She also skipped the Diamond League race in Doha earlier this month.
Likewise, Matthew Centrowitz has withdrawn from the Pre’s Bowerman Mile while he recovers from a stress reaction in his leg. Centrowitz won the 1,500 meters earlier this year at the World Indoor championships in Portland.
Galen Rupp, Centrowitz’s Nike Oregon Project teammate, will not run in Friday night’s 10,000 meters as some had anticipated, according to OregonLive.com. Rupp has already made the Olympic marathon team, and he might take aim at the 10,000 meters at the trials.
Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba withdrew from the women’s 5,000 meters because of a toe injury.
TV: 3:30-5 p.m. (NBC Sports) and 5-6 p.m. (NBC-18)
Key events: Men’s 100-meter dash, 5:13 p.m.; women’s 100-meter hurdles, 5:33 p.m.