Mariya Savinova takes down a strong Eugene field in 1:57.56 (© Kirby Lee)
World and Olympic 800m champion Mariya Savinova will return to Eugene for the Prefontaine Classic, part of the IAAF Diamond League, with a world-class field of challengers, led by 2008 Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo.
The Pre Classic, to be held on 1 June at the historic Hayward Field, annually provides America’s best fans with the world’s best talent, and the women’s 800m is the eighth consecutive event announced by the 39th edition of the meeting to include the reigning Olympic champion.
The 800m at Eugene will begin Savinova’s build-up towards defending her World title, this time in her home country of Russia. In her previous visit to the Pre Classic in 2010, Savinova set a meeting record of 1:57.56.
Kenya’s Jelimo won the 2012 IAAF Diamond League title. Olympic champion in 2008 at age 19, Jelimo recaptured some of her best form last year to win the 2012 World indoor title. Jelimo and Savinova are currently tied at 3-3 in their career head-to-head record.
Four more London 2012 finalists grace a very talented field. Russia’s Yekaterina Poistogova twice broke the European under-23 best last year, culminating with her Olympic bronze medal in London.
Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba was the two-lap revelation of 2012. She won the African title and finished seventh at the Olympics before rounding out her season with an impressive victory over Savinova and Jelimo in Brussels in 1:56.59, the second-fastest time of the year. All of this while still a junior!
The evergreen Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya has a complete set of World Championships medals as well as the Olympic silver from 2008. She has twice finished third at the Pre Classic and will be keen to go at least one better.
Front-running American Alysia Montano, who placed fifth at the Olympics, won last year’s race in Eugene with a gun-to-tape effort, eclipsing Savinova’s meeting record with a time of 1:57.37.
Additional entrants will be announced in the coming weeks as the international competition season gets underway.
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