Ruth Beitia at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo (© Mark Shearman)
Olympic champion Ruth Beitia is among four gold medallists on the slate for the women's high jump at the 43rd Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on 27 May, the third stop of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League series.
Leading the field are jumpers that can be considered the discipline's oldest, youngest and perhaps the most patient.
Beitia won Olympic gold in Rio at age 37 to become by far the oldest medallist in the event. Competing in her fourth Olympics, it was the first major gold for the Spaniard, who won her second straight Diamond Race title and third European title Last year. Beitia will turn 38 on 1 April and is still on top of her game, earning silver at the recent European Indoor Championships and winning the Spanish indoor title for the 16th time.
Vashti Cunningham is the 19-year-old world indoor champion who opened her 2017 season even higher than last year by successfully defending her US indoor title in February. Still eligible for U20 records this year, Cunningham already owns the best at the US level with her 1.99m leap with which she won the world indoor title in Portland at 18.
Chaunte Lowe's career has experienced multiple maternity breaks since she earned a World Championships silver in 2005. The US record-holder at 2.05m won her 13th national title last year to make her fourth Olympic team only to suffer an historic feat – jumping as high as the Olympic gold medallist but, because of misses, earning no medal at all.
Lowe took bronze at the 2008 Olympic Games and captured the world indoor title in 2012, the same year she won the Diamond Race.
Hayward Field has been especially good to Lowe – she won last year’s loaded Prefontaine Classic – while last year’s US title was her fifth (third Olympic Trials) victory on the apron where she has now won six out of 10 times.
The fourth major gold medallist in the field is Poland’s Kamila Licwinko, who won the 2014 world indoor title and bronze at the event two years later. This season the 31-year-old is aiming for her first major outdoor medal after equaling her outdoor national record of 1.99m at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 where she finished fourth.
The field also includes three other high-flying Europeans.
Mirela Demireva equalled her 1.97m PB to earn Olympic silver in Rio, the first Olympic medal for Bulgaria since 2000. She also claimed silver at last summer’s European Championships.
Airine Palsyte knows at least some of Chaunte Lowe’s experience. She jumped just as high as the gold medallist at last year’s World Indoor Championships but has no major medal to show for it. The Lithuanian took silver in last summer’s European Championships and followed it up with gold this month at the European Indoors. Undefeated in 2017 with a 2.01m PB, Palsyte has held her country’s national record since she was 19, when she first jumped 1.96m to claim silver at the 2011 World University Games.
Italy's Alessia Trost has won gold medals at both the IAAF World Youth Championships (2009) and World Junior Championships (2012). She was fifth in Rio, the best finish for her country since Sara Simeoni won gold in 1980. Trost’s best of 2.00m is just shy of Simeoni’s Italian record of 2.01m, a world record set twice in 1978.
Rounding out the field is Levern Spencer from St Lucia. With a best of 1.98m, she has carried her country’s flag at the past three Olympics and in 2016 reached her best yet on the world stage, taking sixth in Rio and fifth at the World Indoor Championships.
Organisers for the IAAF
2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar
5 May – Doha, QAT
13 May – Shanghai, CHN
27 May – Eugene, USA
8 Jun – Rome, ITA
15 Jun – Oslo, NOR
18 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
1 Jul – Paris, FRA
6 Jul – Lausanne, SUI
9 Jul – London, GBR
16 Jul – Rabat, MAR
21 Jul – Monaco, MON
20 Aug – Birmingham, GBR
24 Aug – Zurich, SUI
1 Sep – Brussels, BEL