The iconic Bowerman Mile annually closes the Prefontaine Classic – the second US leg of the 2013 IAAF Diamond League – but this year’s finale on June 1 seems destined to send Eugene’s fans into orbit.
Not only are all three London Olympic 1500m medallists confirmed, but so is each of the three previous 1500m Diamond Race winners.
The Bowerman Mile is a cornerstone of the Pre Classic, named in honour of legendary Oregon coach Bill Bowerman, and two Olympic 1500m gold medallists are among this year’s headliners.
Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria stunned the world with his London gold last year. The 25-year-old has never raced the classic mile distance, nor has he ever raced in the US.
But Asbel Kiprop, the 2008 Olympic champion, has. Since 2009 the Kenyan has won the Bowerman Mile three times out of four appearances, running sub-3:50 each time. He was the first Diamond Race winner in 2010, and followed it up one year later with gold at the World Championships.
World silver medallist Silas Kiplagat has twice raced in the Bowerman Mile, his best performance being his runner-up finish in 2011 with a PB of 3:49.49. The 23-year-old capped last year’s campaign by winning the Diamond Race in the 1500m.
Three Americans in the field have experienced memorable victories at Eugene. Matthew Centrowitz was the surprise 1500m bronze medallist at the 2011 World Championships and just missed a medal in London, finishing fourth. His numerous Eugene victories include the 2011 US 1500m title.
Leo Manzano surprised many with his London silver in the 1500m and has fond memories of Eugene, having won last year’s US Olympic Trials 1500m title at Hayward Field.
World and Olympic finalist Lopez Lomong started 2013 by breaking the American indoor 5000m record with 13:07.00, two weeks after clocking an outright Mile PB of 3:51.21 indoors.
Mekonnen Gebremedhin is Ethiopia’s second-fastest ever in the 1500m and Mile. The World indoor bronze medallist was runner-up in last year’s Bowerman Mile.
Bethwell Birgen, fourth in last year’s Bowerman Mile, has started the year in fine form, finishing second at the Doha Diamond League in 3:31.90 – the third-fastest time of his career. Countryman Nixon Chepseba will be running in Eugene for the first time. The third member of Kenya’s Olympic 1500m – alongside Kiprop and Kiplagat – he won the 2011 Diamond Race as a 20-year-old.
Also lining up will be two more from the East African powerhouse: Collins Cheboi, the 2011 All-Africa Games silver medallist, and Caleb Ndiku, the 2010 World junior champion. As an 18-year-old, Ndiku was fifth in the 2011 Bowerman Mile, running 3:49.77, the fastest ever for that age. He was fifth again last year, just ahead of Cheboi, who was sixth.
East Africa has another young entrant in Ayanleh Souleiman. Only 20 years old, he holds Djibouti’s national records in the 800m, 1500m and 3000m. He was third in last year’s Bowerman Mile in 3:50.21, another national record, and finished second at the African Championships.
Abdelaati Iguider of Morocco has much more experience, earning the bronze medal in London as well as reaching the final in the 5000m. Winner of the 2012 World Indoor Championships, his medal collection also includes gold from the 2004 World Junior Championships.
Nick Willis of New Zealand was the 2008 Olympic silver medallist, while Ryan Gregson of Australia is a two-time winner of the Pre Classic’s international Mile.
With 15 fields announced, the Pre Classic now numbers 75 major medallists, of whom 36 own major gold medals, and more still to come. With 12 of the announced events featuring the London gold medallist, nine include a full set of medallists, including the Bowerman Mile.
Organisers for the IAAF
2013 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 10 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
New York, USA – 25 May
Eugene, USA – 1 Jun
Rome, ITA – 6 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 13 Jun
Birmingham, GBR – 30 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 4 Jul
Paris, FRA – 6 Jul
Monaco, MON – 19 Jul
London, GBR – 26-27 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 22 Aug
Zürich, SUI – 29 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 6 Sep