David Oliver powers to victory at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Kirby Lee)
Every lane is set to be shining with medallists in the 110m hurdles on 31 May at the Prefontaine Classic, the third leg of the 2014 IAAF Diamond League.
Some of the world’s best-ever sprint hurdlers are confirmed, as well as the world’s greatest all-around athlete. The two fastest hurdlers in the field have raced each other more than 50 times, and neither is ready to concede anything to the other.
David Oliver is the reigning world champion and the only athlete to have won the Diamond Trophy more than once in the 110m hurdles, winning in 2010 and 2013.
Oliver knows Eugene well, having won the Pre Classic twice. In the first of those wins, in 2010, he equalled the US record with the still-standing stadium record of 12.90. He was the meeting’s first sub-13-second hurdler and remains the only one to accomplish that feat twice.
Aries Merritt is the world record-holder at 12.80 and Olympic champion. His time made him the first US Olympic gold medallist in the event since 1996 and the first US sprint hurdler to own the world record since 1989.
No one in the field has more world records (four) or major gold medals (four) than the best athlete in the world, Ashton Eaton. He is a fan favourite who will be at home in Eugene, where he set the decathlon world record of 9039 points in 2012. Eaton has run as fast as 13.35 (plus a wind-aided 13.34) in this event.
Jason Richardson is another in the field with a sub-13 best at 12.98. He won the 2011 World Championships and is the reigning Olympic silver medallist.
Reigning national champion Ryan Wilson was the closest to Oliver last year, cementing his best season ever with a silver medal at the World Championships in Moscow.
Omo Osaghae is the newly-minted world indoor champion, winning in Sopot with a lifetime best of 7.45. A three-time US indoor champion, Osaghae will be making his Pre Classic debut.
The two youngest entrants come from Europe. Sergey Shubenkov, 23, is already Russia’s fastest ever at 13.09 and won the bronze in last summer’s World Championships. He is also the reigning European champion indoors and out.
France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, 22, won the silver medal at the recent World Indoor championships. His country produced the Pre Classic’s first winner in this event in 1975 with Guy Drut. A year later Drut won Olympic gold in Montreal.
Organisers for the IAAF
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