01 JUN 2012 Feature Eugene, USA

Prefontaine Classic Press Conference Highlights – Samsung Diamond League

Eugene's Hayward Field - Samsung Diamond League (Kirby Lee - Image of Sport)Eugene's Hayward Field - Samsung Diamond League (Kirby Lee - Image of Sport) © Copyright
Eugene, USAOne of the traditional events on the Prefontaine Classic - Samsung Diamond League (1 / 2 June) schedule is always the Bowerman Mile named in honour of the late University of Oregon coach, Bill Bowerman - the man who coached Steve Prefontaine

Reigning World and Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop journeyed to Eugene looking for a fast time, and has asked for pacemakers to tow the field through 800 metres in 1:51 and 1200m in 2:48.

"I want to run a personal best that is a priority," Kiprop said at today’s pre event press conference. "Also to see if I can get the stadium record here. I would like to see if can get a season’s best also to see the challenge with my fellow Kenyan. Silas Kiplagat. I really want to know how he can beat me when the pace is hard because I have suffered defeat most of the time when the pace is slow."

Kiprop has a best Mile time of 3:48.50 set at the 2009 Prefontaince Classic. He currently trails Silas Kiplagat in the 1500m world lists. As he sat patiently answering questions, the American record holder Bernard Lagat smiled when asked about the pace.

"Crazy pace"

"That's a good thing. I don’t mind too much with these guys running 3:48 I will be happy if I do my 3:51 or 3:52." said Lagat. "That could get me position 8 or 9 but I really don't care about position. But I care about the time that I get. One of the things that will help me run 3:51 or 3:52 is if I run smart. Because these guys are asking for a crazy pace. If I go with them I am going to run 4 flat. I am going to run worse than at the Penn Relays."

"Actually I haven’t done a lot of speed work. I have done lots of the longer stuff 800’s and 400’s not like the 300's. I have done the 2000m trial which gave me confidence. Any time you can run under 5 minutes (4:59 hand timed!) it gives me the confidence that the shape is there. So I am happy."

Lagat was asked his opinion on the ongoing discussion as to why the meet organisers are holding two different Mile races in an Olympic year. Friday night (1) the International Mile will be run with the Bowerman Mile slated for Saturday afternoon (2) during the Samsung Diamond League portion of the meeting.

"It is the history, it’s the Bowerman Mile," he explained. "The international mile maybe should be a 1500m. But what I like is that we have the Bowerman Mile. It’s the name. It’s like running in Crystal Palace and you are doing 1500m and they are calling it the Emsley Carr. You can’t call it that. It has to be the Emsley Carr Mile. It’s a respected tradition. It’s called the Bowerman Mile and I go for that."

Felix keeps her options open

Allyson Felix ran a 100m personal best of 10.92 seconds in Doha last month and faces a dilemma as to which event the 100m or the 400m she will double with at the US Olympic trials. She is running her specialty, the 200m on Saturday.

"The 100m is still a possibility," says the now 26-year-old 'veteran’ of the US team. "The 100 and the 400m are still on the table for me. And I think after my race in New York then we will sit down and make a final decision - Bobby Kersee and me."

"The 400m is an event I am not as comfortable with. I just haven't run it on the world stage that many times. I am still working on the whole strategy part of it and committing to that. That’s the hard part of the 400m. Then the 100m is such a quick race and it’s so technical executing it and putting everything together at the right time."

Richards – "patient"

After a disappointing 2011 season in which she ran 400m in 49.66 seconds earlier in the season yet could manage no better than 7th in the World championships, Sandra Richards-Ross is back with a vengeance. If Felix chooses the 400m she will have to contend with a resurging Texan who won the 2009 World Championship gold.

"I am looking for the 400m win tomorrow," Richards-Ross declared. "I am trying to be patient this season, not shoot my shot too early this time. I just want to go out there and compete well and leave Hayward Field with the win. I would love to get the world leading time, depending on the conditions, but most importantly I would like to beat this field."

"Oh man, my training is 100 times better this year over last year because I am 100% over my injury. So I have been able to sprint in practice which I wasn’t able to do last year with my quad not being fully recovered. I feel great."

Bekele’s getting stronger

Ethiopian distance running superstar Kenenisa Bekele arrived in Eugene Thursday evening after enduring the long journey from Addis Ababa. There is little pressure on him to win the 5000m here since he has been recovering from a calf injury for some time.

"Now I am getting better my muscle is stronger," he revealed. "Now I don’t worry about it. I am pain free now. It’s just the matter of extra training."

"Of course I am thinking like that of course. It is a race. Nobody can be sure 100% When I am going to compete I want to be a strong competitor - to win, not to lose. Everybody can try to win. You don’t run to lose."

"I have information the pace will be 7:45 at 3,000m. I don’t know how they can run that fast. I am happy with this pace also no problem. If I will run around 13 flat I am happy you know. 13 flat or under 13."

Farah – "don’t disrespect anybody"

The man who has been handed the role of favourite in the 5000m is Britain’s Mo Farah who won the World championship at this distance and also won the 10,000m at last year’s Prefontaine Classic in 26:46.57. Farah insisted everyone in the field has a chance Saturday.

"As an athlete you just have to respect everyone on the starting line and come away with a good result," he said. "That’s my aim. I have great memories of Hayward, The crowd got behind me last year shouting out my name and I hope they can get behind me if I am struggling over the last bit. It can make a big difference. But tomorrow's race, it’s got a great field you have got everyone pretty much. So you don’t disrespect anybody and get on the starting line and do the best you can do."

"I don’t think it has anything to do with London. Here we are going to have a pacemaker. In London we are not going to have pacemakers it’s completely tactical. This race is just about being aware of everybody else, going there and coming away with a good result that you can be happy with. Last year, what really changed for me, was this meet. This was my breakthrough running a British and European Record and getting the win, That was a massive thing for me. I carried that all the way through the season and if I can get that again it will be great."

James with a PB on his mind

Grenada’s World 400m champion, Kirani James, has already run 44.72 this season and has his sights on beating his own personal best of 44.36 which he ran in Zurich last September.

"I am just trying to improve upon my PB," James said. "As long as I do that I am sure I am on the right track leading up to the Olympics. I don’t think this field could get any more talent. I commend the meet organisers for putting together such a great field. I expect it to be very competitive and very fast.

"You can’t underestimate anybody because one day you are on top the next day an unknown guy can just take over. As far as the main guys we all know Lashawn (Merritt), we all know Jeremy (Wariner), we are looking at an 18 year old guy coming up (Luguelin Santos). So you can’t underestimate anybody. Anybody who has the mindset to do the 400m, I think they are a challenger to me."

Paul Gains for the IAAF