Asbel Kiprop wins Bowerman Mile in Eugene (© Kirby Lee - Image of Sport)
Asbel Kiprop is only 24 but is already among the world’s greatest milers of all time and he will lead the best field ever to run the signature event at the 2014 Prefontaine Classic, an IAAF Diamond League meeting, on Saturday 31 May.
The final race at the landmark 40th Pre Classic at historic Hayward Field will once again be the Bowerman Mile, named after legendary coach Bill Bowerman.
Kiprop was 19 when he won Olympic Games 1500m gold for Kenya in Beijing, the youngest ever in the event.
A year later he ran his first of five straight sub-3:50 miles at the Pre Classic; three of those were victories, the most ever in the event.
A stunning collection of talent lined up against him includes one of the few men to have ever beaten Kiprop in the mile, his compatriot Silas Kiplagat.
Kiplagat is the defending Bowerman Mile champion, edging Kiprop last year by 0.05 in the closest finish in Pre Classic mile history.
Ayanleh Souleiman, just 21, brings a rare brilliance from Djibouti. He won the gold medal at the recent IAAF World Indoor Championships in the 1500m and he also won a bronze medal in the 800m at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
More major medal winners in the loaded field include Aman Wote and Mekonnen Gebremedhin of Ethiopia and Johan Cronje of South Africa.
Wote and Gebremedhin both clocked rare sub-3:50 bests at previous Pre Classics. Wote earned the silver medal at the 2014 World Indoor Championships 1500m, and ran a world-leading 3:53.39 mile at the Drake Relays last Saturday.
Gebremedhin garnered the bronze medal at the 2012 World Indoor Championships and Cronje earned a surprise bronze in last year’s World Championships 1500m and will make his US debut at Hayward Field.
The field also features a pair of prominent US athletes who are no strangers to Hayward Field or famous mile races.
Matthew Centrowitz, who won an NCAA 1500m crown representing University of Oregon, also owns medals from the past two IAAF World Championships while Will Leer is a Minnesota native who equalled his personal best at last year’s International Mile at the Pre Classic.
Also on the start line will be Kenya’s Bethwel Birgen and Collins Cheboi as well as Morocco’s Mohamed Moustaoui, but mile fans will also keep an eye on 23-year-old Henrik Ingebrigtsen of Norway and James Magut of Kenya.
Ingebrigtsen is the reigning European 1500m champion and Magut won the past two editions of the Pre Classic International Mile and this year has been elevated to the Bowerman Mile.
Organisers for the IAAF
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2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 9 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
Eugene, USA – 31 May
Rome, ITA – 5 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun
New York, USA – 14 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep