Ayanleh Souleiman winning the Bowerman Mile at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Kirby Lee)
Organisers of the Prefontaine Classic claim that their Bowerman Mile field for this year’s IAAF Diamond League meeting on 28 May is the best they have ever had.
Not only does it contain five global champions, but it will also reunite the top five finishers from the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015, when just 0.41 separated the first five past the line.
Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop is currently the world’s top miler. At 26, he has already won four major gold medals, the first as a 19-year-old at the 2008 Beijing Olympics over 1500m. Last year he won his third consecutive world title at the distance, equalling the achievement of world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj.
Kiprop, who won the Diamond Race in 2010 and 2015, has won the Bowerman Mile three times. This summer in Rio, Kiprop hopes to become the first Kenyan to win two Olympic 1500m titles. His campaign kicked off with a great start, winning the 1500m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha last weekend in a world-leading 3:32.15.
Silas Kiplagat, also a two-time Diamond Race winner, will also be returning to Eugene. Throughout their careers, Kiplagat and Kiprop have faced each other 35 times in the 1500m and mile, and Kiprop owns an 18-17 edge. In the Bowerman Mile, however, Kiplagat has a 3-2 lead.
Another Kenyan, Elijah Manangoi, came out of nowhere last year to give Kiprop his most recent challenge. He set a PB of 3:29.67 in Monaco before taking the silver medal behind Kiprop in Beijing. In Eugene, the 23-year-old will be contesting his first ever mile race.
Ayanleh Souleiman will be defending his Bowerman Mile title, having won it last year for the second time in his career. His previous victory came in 2014 when he set a meeting record of 3:47.32. The 2014 world indoor 1500m champion and 2013 world 800m bronze medallist set a world indoor 1000m record earlier this year.
USA’s Matthew Centrowitz won the world indoor 1500m title in March. The 26-year-old has reached the 1500m final at every global championships he has contested for the past five years, including taking bronze and silver at the 2011 and 2013 IAAF World Championships respectively.
World and Olympic bronze medallist Abdalaati Iguider is Morocco’s third-fastest miler in history, trailing only world record-holder Hicham El Guerrouj and former 1500m world record-holder Said Aouita. Iguider won the world indoor title in 2012 and the world junior title in 2004.
Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi just missed out on a medal at last year’s World Championships. The Algerian finished third in the 800m in Eugene last year, having contested the mile at Hayward Field in 2013 and 2014.
Evan Jager obliterated his own North American 3000m steeplechase record last year with 8:00.45, despite falling during the race. The 27-year-old, whose mile PB of 3:53.33 was set in Eugene, has finished in the top six in the steeplechase at the past three global championships.
Jakub Holusa of the Czech Republic earned the 1500m silver medal at the recent World Indoor Championships. The European indoor champion finished fourth in the mile in Eugene last year.
Kenya’s Ronald Kwemoi broke the world junior 1500m record in 2014 with a time of 3:28.81 before going on to take medals at the Commonwealth Games and the African Championships later that year. He set a mile PB of 3:52.57 in Eugene last year.
Commonwealth champion James Magut has twice won the international mile in Eugene. In 2014 he contested the Bowerman Mile at Hayward Field and set a lifetime best of 3:49.43.
USA’s Ben Blankenship won the international mile at last year’s Prefontaine Classic, having set an outright mile PB of 3:53.13 indoors earlier that year. He also anchored USA to a world record in the distance medley relay at the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2015.
Many US fans will be following Drew Hunter, the national high school cross-country champion who ran 3:57.81 indoors earlier this year. The 18-year-old could challenge Alan Webb’s US high school record of 3:53.43.
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