Sandra Perkovic on her way to setting a meeting record in the discus at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Kirby Lee)
London 2012 Olympic Games champion Sandra Perkovic will head the women’s discus field at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene, actually competing at the famed Prefontaine Classic on Friday night (27), although the main programme will be on Saturday.
Perkovic, 25, has had an outstanding start to her season and thrown over 70 metres in both her meetings so far in 2016, including an IAAF Diamond League record of 70.88m in Shanghai just over a week ago.
A two-time Prefontaine Classic winner, Perkovic has the four longest efforts ever recorded at Hayward Field from her victories in 2012 and 2014.
She has won the last four Diamond Race titles in her discipline and has a record 27 Diamond League meetings.
Her opponents on Friday wil include a trio of Germans who, between them, have won every German national title since the 2008 Olympics.
Nadine Muller, 30, was the bronze medallist in last summer’s IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 and also has a silver from 2011.
Julia Fischer 26, is a former world U18 championships gold medallist while Shanice Craft, 23, won the 2010 Youth Olympic Games title as well as the shot put at the IAAF World U20 Championships Barcelona 2012.
US record-holder Gia Lewis-Smallwood, 37, and her fellow USA International Whitney Ashley, 27, are also in the field along with France’s Melina Robert-Michon, 36, who won the silver medal behind Perkovic at the 2013 world championships.
Kiyeng looking to go even faster
The women’s 3000m steeplechase on Saturday will see Kenya’s reigning world champion Hyvin Kiyeng, 24, looking to improve on her personal best and world-leading time of 9:07.42, set in Shanghai just over a week ago.
Kiyeng, who is sometimes known internationally by her last name Jepkemoi, will be running in the USA for the first time.
Like her compatriot, Virginia Nyambura will also be racing on American soil for the first time.
Seventh in Beijing last summer, the 22-year-old showed a high-level of consistency last season to win the 2015 Diamond Race, helped by wins in Doha, Birmingham and Lausanne.
Sofia Assefa, 28, is the Ethiopian record holder and the defending champion in Eugene from 2014, the last time the discipline was staged at the Prefontaine Classic, setting a still-standing US all-comers’ record of 9:11.39 two years ago.
The local contingent will be headed by Emma Coburn, 25, who has been the dominant US steeplechaser of recent years, owning nine of the fastest 10 times by an American topped by 9:11.42. She finished fifth at the 2015 world championships.
Two places in front of her was Germany’s Gesa-Felicitas Krause, 23, who took the bronze medal in Beijing and will lead the European challenge in Eugene.
Kenya’s 2013 world championships silver medallist Lidya Chepkurui and 2015 African Games winner Purity Kirui are also in the field and they will be joined by their compatriot and 2015 African Games 1500m winner Beatrice Chepkoech, who has returned to the steeplechase after a five year hiatus.
Bahrain will be represented by teenagers Tigest Getent and 2014 world junior champion Ruth Jebet.
The organisers also announced on Wednesday that Genzeba Dibaba had been forced to withdraw from the 5000m on Friday.
Dibaba is the Prefontaine Classic 5000m record holder with 14:19.76 from last year but the 25-year-old Ethiopian suffered a toe injury in training recently, which still makes racing in spikes unwise.
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