Natalya Antyukh of Russia and Lashinda Demus of the United States lead the field in the Women's 400m Hurdles Final on Day 12 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 8 August 2012 (© Getty Images)
The women’s 400m Hurdles at the Prefontaine Classic, part of the IAAF Diamond League, will provide a preview of the World Championships as the reigning Olympic and World champions the Diamond League Race winner.
Three stars headline a power-packed field at the 39th Prefontaine Classic to be held at the historic Hayward Field on 1 June. Russia’s Natalya Antyukh won the London Olympics by just 0.07 seconds over American Lashinda Demus, who brought home gold at the 2011 World Championships. But it was Jamaican Kaliese Spencer who won the Diamond Race for the second year in succession.
The trio is amazing in that each has broken the 53-second barrier, making the World record of 52.34 within reasonable reach as each prepares for the World Championships in Moscow this August.
Spencer, who has twice been runner-up at the Pre Classic, is the youngest headliner at 26. She has won world-class races in her young career at London, Rome, and Zurich. Still, she is in search of her first championships medal, having finished fourth at the 2012 Olympics as well as at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships.
American record-holder Demus, now 28, has a glittering collection of major medals – gold from the 2011 World Championships in Daegu, along with silvers from the London Olympics and 2005 and 2009 World Championships. She also holds the meeting record at 53.03 from 2010.
At 31, Antyukh is the oldest –and quickest – of the leading headliners, and she will be making her first ever competitive appearance in the USA. After spending most of her senior career focusing on the 400m flat – an event in which she boasts a 49.85 PB and won the 2004 Olympic bronze medal – she switched back to her first love, the 400m Hurdles, in 2009.
That year she made the World Championships final, and first dipped under 53 seconds in 2010 to win the European title. She took bronze at the 2011 World Championships, then set a PB of 52.70 to win gold at the London Olympics.
The talent doesn’t stop there, however, as Olympic bronze medallist Zuzana Hejnova, European indoor 400m champion Perri Shakes-Drayton, and European silver medallist Denisa Rosolova will all be at the Pre Classic.
Also in the field is a pair of fast-rising American talents – Georganne Moline and T’erea Brown, who finished fifth and sixth respectively at the London Olympic Games. It means the top seven finishers from last year’s Olympics will be reunited in Eugene to do battle once more.
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