Ashley Spencer on her way to winning the 400m hurdles at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Kirby Lee)
All three Olympic medallists from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio are just the beginning of a deep women’s 400m hurdles field announced for the Prefontaine Classic, the third stop of the 2018 IAAF Diamond League, on 26 May. In fact, every confirmed entrant owns at least one major medal.
The race will include at least three athletes from a wildly talented US stable that last year saw six clock sub-54 second lifetime bests at the national championships.
Dalilah Muhammad, 28, won that US title race last summer in 52.64, part of a season capped by her first IAAF Diamond League trophy. The summer before, the New York native captured the Olympic title in Rio which followed up her silver medal-winning run at the 2013 World Championships. Muhammad repeated that performance at last year's World Championships in London.
Ashley Spencer returns to defend her Eugene title. The 24-year-old, who took Rio bronze, clocked 53.38 at Hayward Field and later improved her lifetime best to 53.11 at the US Championships.
Shamier Little, meanwhile, has won at Hayward Field more often than anyone else in the field, almost always with a lifetime best. She captured the 2014 World U20 gold and 2015 US title while carving a dominating collegiate career at Texas A&M, winning three NCAA crowns (2014-16) in Eugene. Last year she was second to Spencer at the Pre Classic and Muhammad at the US championships, setting PBs on both occasions. Little raced to silver at the 2015 World Championships.
No one in the field can claim more major golds than Zuzana Hejnová, 31, of the Czech Republic, the 2013 and 2015 world champion and Diamond League Trophy winner both seasons. Hejnová took Olympic bronze in London and was just inches from another medal in Rio. She finished second to Muhammad in last year’s Diamond League final.
The field also includes Sara Petersen of Denmark, the reigning European champion and 2016 Olympic silver medallist. The 31-year-old clocked her 53.55 lifetime best in Rio.
Jamaica will come armed with Ristananna Tracey, the 2017 world bronze medallist, and Janieve Russell, a 2016 Olympic finalist. Tracey was fifth in Rio while Russell took world U20 gold in 2012.
Organisers for the IAAF
2018 IAAF Diamond League calendar
4 May – Doha, QAT
12 May – Shanghai, CHN
26 May – Eugene, USA
31 May – Rome, ITA
7 Jun – Oslo, NOR
10 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
30 Jun – Paris, FRA
5 Jul – Lausanne, SUI
13 Jul – Rabat, MAR
20 Jul – Monaco, MON
21-22 Jul – London, GBR
18 Aug – Birmingham, GBR
30 Aug – Zurich, SUI
31 Aug – Brussels, BEL