Mutaz Essa Barshim at the press conference ahead of the 2015 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (Kirby Lee) © Copyright
General News Eugene, USA

Eugene press conference highlights – IAAF Diamond League

The top athletes shied away from bold predictions at the press conference for the IAAF Diamond League in Eugene on Friday (29). 

Nine athletes appeared and though the potential exists for records and fast times at Saturday’s famous Prefontaine Classic most were hesitant to pin down the exact marks they are aiming for at Hayward Field.    

High jumper Mutaz Essa Barshim, who came to the press conference clad in the jersey of the home town University of Oregon Ducks, didn’t offer any projections about how high he could jump tomorrow. 

“I just want to go out there and have a good show, I want to have a great competition and jump high,” said Barshim. 

The 2014 Diamond Race winner is returning to the site of his first jump of 2.40m back in 2013 and is coming off what he said was his best start ever to a season, his 2.38m winning clearance in Shanghai. 

Though a world record may not happen this early in the year, Barshim did set out what it would take to jump 2.45m or higher. ”I would say when everything comes perfectly together, the perfect match. You feel good, the weather is good, you feel support from the crowd, it then can happen.”

Lavillenie ready after injury

Pole vault world record holder Renaud Lavillenie appeared at the press conference with a wrap on his right shoulder, an injury he sustained two weeks ago when he fell after running a leg of the 4x100m at a club competition in France. 

The shoulder injury kept him out of the first Diamond League meeting, but he says he is capable of vaulting at least 5.80m on Saturday.  

“If I’m here, it’s because I’m ready to jump so the shoulder won’t be a big problem,” commented Lavillenie.

World indoor record holder Genzebe Dibaba is preparing for a fast time in the women’s 5000m. 

Through a translator, Dibaba said her main goal was to run a personal best, which means a mark faster than the 14:18.86 she ran under cover in the Swedish capital in February. 

The early afternoon start time of the race will be a challenge and, according to Dibaba, this is her first race that’s not been in the morning or evening, and she will have to deal with temperatures that are supposed to reach around 25C when the women’s 5000m is on the track. 

Fraser-Pryce anxious to put Shanghai behind her

Two-time Olympic Games 100m winner 2013 Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce looks to use Saturday’s race at this distance to rebound from a disappointing outing in Shanghai just under a fortnight ago.

“I didn’t start well and I didn’t end well,” Fraser-Pryce said ruefully about her fifth place finish of 11.25 in China. “It was one of those races that I absolutely could not explain what went wrong.”

To succeed in Eugene she will have to beat a field she describes as “packed” and which includes her compatriot Elaine Thompson, Shanghai winner Blessing Okagbare-Ighoteguonor as well as Michelle Lee-Ahye, of Trinidad and Tobago, and also the USA's Tori Bowie. 

Although there doesn’t appear to be a rival so far this year for 400m star Kirani James, he isn’t looking past Saturday.

“You can’t take the field for granted at any race at any point in the season. I always have to be ready because I know they are going to be ready,” said James

Allyson Felix is set to continue her exploration of the 400m, although she doesn’t plan to make any decisions on whether she will focus on the 200m or 400m this year based solely on Saturday’s results. 

The Prefontaine Classic will be her first 400m in more than a year and will give her a chance to face-off with fellow American and London 2012 Olympic Games champion Sanya-Richards Ross, and Jamaica’s 2014 Diamond Race winner Novlene Williams-Mills. 

“This one is really about seeing where I’m at; seeing what things I do need to work and improve upon, just kind of a starting off point,” said Felix. “I feel like I run my fastest when I’m not thinking about it (time) so I try to not get too wound up with times and things like that.”

After missing the US record in the 1500m by just 0.10 last year, there is plenty of reason to think that Jenny Simpson might finally improve on Mary Slaney’s almost-ancient the mark on Saturday.

However, this season Simpson is more concerned with finishing first than setting personal bests.

“It’s so addicting to want to go after that American record, but I think I will make a mistake and spread myself too thin if tried to do both things this season and so really it is back to racing,” commented the 2011 world champion. 

Kevin Sully for the IAAF