27 MAY 2008 General News Eugene, Oregon

Felix the star of the sprints; Shaheen added to Two Miles in Prefontaine – IAAF World Athletics Tour

Dazzling double for Allyson Felix in Doha (Getty/AFP)Dazzling double for Allyson Felix in Doha (Getty/AFP) © Copyright

The strongest women's 100m field in the history of the meet, a match-up of Olympic medal contenders in the men's 200m, and three of the top 10 men's 100m competitors highlight the short sprints at the 34th annual Prefontaine Classic on 8 June.

The Prefontaine Classic is a Grand Prix status meeting as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2008.

The fastest 100m sprinter so far of this Olympic season, Alyson Felix, brings her 10.93 personal record into the women's 100.  The reigning double World 200m champion is seeking to prove she can beat a field of 100m specialists that includes Torri Edwards, last year's Pre Classic winner and 2003 World champion, Carmelita Jeter, bronze medallist at the 2007 World Championships, Lauryn Williams, 2005 World champion and 2007 World silver medallist, and Kerron Stewart, fastest in the world after Felix at 10.96.

Add to those names Jamaica's Sherone Simpson, ranked No. 1 in the world in 2006 and coming back strongly after missing most of last year with a hip injury, Angela Williams, the 2008 World Indoor Champion, and Muna Lee, last year's Pre Classic runner-up, and you have a 100m field that could serve as a good preview of the Olympic final in Beijing.

The men's 200m could provide a glimpse at some of the possible U.S. Olympic team in that event, with Wallace Spearmon, Xavier Carter, and Rodney Martin heading the field. Spearmon was the World Championships bronze medallist last year, Carter won the 2007 Pre Classic 200, and Martin finished 4th at the 2007 Worlds in Osaka.  Athens Olympic champion and many-time Pre Classic winner Shawn Crawford will also be in the mix.

The men's 100m is led by Churandy Martina. The Netherlands Antilles athlete has a season-best of 10.00.  He's joined by Jamaica’s Michael Frater, the silver medallist from the 2005 World Championships, and Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu, the Olympic silver medallist in 2004.

Two Miles gets even stronger

World 3000m Steeplechase recordholder Saif Shaheen of Qatar has joined the illustrious field in the Prefontaine Classic 2-Mile at Hayward Field.

Shaheen, who hasn't lost in his signature event since 2002, set the World record in the Steeplechase of 7:53.62 in Brussels in 2004. He is twice a gold medallist in the World Championships in 2003 and 2005. But his credentials in racing without barriers are also superb, as he rates among history's 10 fastest 5000m men ever at 12:48.21, making him the fastest man in the Pre 2-Mile field! With his blistering kick, he definitely adds spice to a field that already includes Bernard Lagat, Craig Mottram, and Paul Koech.

Tom Jordan for the IAAF