Tiny Eugene, Oregon will once again be the focal point of worldwide attention this July 3rd, as the 36th annual Prefontaine Classic welcomes at least four of Track and Field's most recognized elite athletes:
- Yelena Isinbayeva - Following in the footsteps of her famous Russian countryman Sergey Bubka, Isinbayeva, 27, has dominated the women's pole vault like no other. She has set 17 indoor and outdoor world records, won gold in two Olympics and five World Championships, and is no doubt looking forward to the savvy Hayward Field crowd in her pursuit of yet another world record. It will be Isi's first appearance on American soil in an outdoor meet.
- Kenenisa Bekele - Current world record holder in both the outdoor 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, Bekele returns to Hayward Field where he previously ran the fourth fastest 10k ever (26:25.97). This time, he will focus on the 5k. Bekele, from Ethiopia, owns 11 IAAF Cross Country, three Olympic, and five World Championship golds. Both Bekele and Isinbayeva are the current Track and Field News Athletes of the Decade.
- Sanya Richards - Reigning World Champion and No. 1 ranked in the world at 400 meters, Richards has thrilled the Pre Classic crowd before and is a fan favorite. The American had the four fastest times in 2009 (no one was close to her 48.83), and at 24 has yet to reach the peak of her career.
- Tyson Gay - How fitting is it that Gay returns to the venue of his crushing 200 meter injury in the 2008 Olympic Trials? He will surely be looking for redemption as he is entered in that very 200m race again. Gay finished his 2009 injury-plagued season on a high note with a new American record at 100 meters (9.69) and after successful groin surgery in the offseason, is poised to give Usain Bolt a real challenge in 2010.
The Nike sponsored Prefontaine Classic, named for the legendary University of Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine, has long drawn the best of international competition. This year, the Pre Classic will be a destination for the inaugural Diamond League professional circuit which has 14 stops in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the US.
A huge worldwide audience, as well as a Hayward Field sellout, is expected to view the meet Saturday, July 3rd. NBC will televise live to 130 nations. Tickets go on sale Friday, March 5th, at 9am Pacific at 1-800- WEBFOOT, or online at goducks.com.
Other outstanding international and collegiate athletes will be announced at a later time. Check out the Track and Field page for updates.