Sifan Hassan finishes ahead of Jenny Simpson in the 1500m (© AFP / Getty Images)
This year’s Prefontaine Classic will bring together eight global championship medallists to compete over 1500m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene on 28 May.
Five of the women in the field have PBs faster than four minutes, meaning the US all-comers’ record of 3:57.05 – set at this meeting in 2014 – could be under threat.
With a best of 3:56.05, Dutch record-holder Sifan Hassan is the fastest in the field. The 23-year-old achieved her first sub-four-minute performance at this meeting in 2014 before going on to win European titles indoors, outdoors and at cross country.
Hassan was the 1500m Diamond Race winner last year and took bronze in that event at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015. More recently, she won the world indoor 1500m title in Portland last month.
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon has a rare collection of medals. She won the world youth 1500m title and world junior cross-country title in 2011 and followed it with world junior 1500m gold and a second world junior cross-country title in 2012. One year later, she set a Kenyan senior and African junior record of 3:56.98.
Winner at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and twice a champion at the hotly contested Kenyan Cross Country Championships, Kipyegon took the silver medal at last year’s World Championships and rounded out her season by winning the mile at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Brussels with an African record of 4:16.71.
Compatriot Hellen Obiri has twice broken the US all-comers’ 1500m record in Eugene, first with her 3:58.58 victory in 2013 and then with her 3:57.05 triumph one year later. The 26-year-old owns global medals of every colour: 3000m gold at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, 3000m silver at the 2014 World Indoor Championships and 1500m bronze at the 2013 World Championships. Obiri took last year off to give birth to her daughter, but returned to action last month and clocked a 5000m PB of 15:28.5 at altitude in Nakuru.
USA’s Jenny Simpson and Shannon Rowbury have an intense rivalry going back seven years.
Simpson, the 2011 world champion, won the 1500m in Eugene last year. Her 3:58.28 clocking to finish third in Eugene in 2014 is the fastest time ever achieved by a US woman on home soil.
But while Simpson has a global title to her name, Rowbury owns the North American record. The 31-year-old clocked 3:56.29 in Monaco last year to break Mary Slaney’s mark that had stood since 1983. Rowbury earned world 1500m bronze in 2009 and world indoor 3000m bronze last month in Portland.
Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay is the world junior silver medallist and world indoor bronze medallist at 1500m. Earlier this year, the 19-year-old set a world indoor U20 record of 4:01.81.
Fellow Ethiopian Axumawit Embaye took 1500m silver at the 2014 World Indoor Championships while still a teenager and went on to set a lifetime best of 4:02.35 later that year.
Brenda Martinez will be stepping up in distance in Eugene. The 28-year-old is better known as an 800m runner, having taken bronze in that event at the 2013 World Championships, but earlier this year she won the US indoor title at 1500m and has a best of 4:00.94.
Britain’s Laura Weightman is the European bronze medallist and Commonwealth silver medallist. An Olympic finalist in 2012 at the age of 21, she has a 1500m PB of 4:00.17.
Morocco’s Rababe Arafi was the only woman to reach the finals of both the 800m and 1500m at least year’s World Championships. The 25-year-old won the African 1500m title in 2012 and has a PB of 4:02.71.
The field also includes six-time Polish champion Renata Plis and USA’s Kerri Gallagher.
Put simply, this year’s Prefontaine Classic will feature potentially the best women’s 1500m field in the 41-year history of the meeting.
Organisers for the IAAF
2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
6 May – Doha, QAT
14 May – Shanghai, CHN
22 May – Rabat, MAR
28 May – Eugene, USA
2 Jun – Rome, ITA
5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
15 Jul – Monaco, MON
22-23 Jul – London, GBR
25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
27 Aug – Paris, FRA
1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
9 Sep – Brussels, BEL