This is Justin Lagat’s Preview of the Nike 2023 Prefontaine Classic. Justin just did a wonderful series of articles on Budapest, while he was on site. He is writing remotely on the Nike Pre Classic.
On the 16th to the 17th this weekend, athletes will be striving to win the diamond league trophies for the season and the advantages that come with it; including better endorsement terms, invitations to bigger competitions next year and wild-card entries to the next world championships in Tokyo.
The 3000m steeplechase races will feature on the first day of the 2-day Diamond League final in Eugene this weekend.
The women’s race is expected to be a tough battle between Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech, the silver medalist from Budapest who just set a world record for the 2000m steeplechase distance on Sunday; and Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi, the reigning world champion. Given the status of Yavi as the defending champion going into the next world championships, Chepkoech will definitely have an extra incentive to win here. But, will Yavi allow that?
With the youngster, Faith Jerotich, who won the bronze medal in at the world championships, on the start list, the lineup brings together all the medalists for a re-match. It remains to be seen whether their finishing order will remain the same as it was in Budapest.
In the men’s race, it will be Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali’s race to lose. With a seasonal best time of 7:56.78, which is also his personal best time, the reigning World and Olympic Champion is the only sub-8 minute runner in the field. The closest to him in terms of their personal best times is Kenya’s newcomer, Simon Koech, with a personal best time of 8:04.19. The bronze medalist from Budapest, Abraham Kibiwot, is also in the race.
Another exciting distance event on Saturday will be the men’s one mile featuring Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen. On Friday last week at the Brussels Diamond League, the 1500m Olympic Champion set a new world record for the 2000m event, breaking the old record set in 1999 by Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj. That left the Moroccan with just two world records, and one of the records is the one-mile record of 3:43.13, which is just about two seconds away from Ingebrigtsen’s reach, given his personal best and national record of 3:46.46.
Countryman Narve Nordas, the bronze medalist from Budapest and Kenya’s Reynold Cheruiyot, who was behind him as he set the 2000m world record, are also in the competitive field.
World record-holder, Faith Kipyegon will be the other clear favorite athlete of the evening, featuring in the women’s 1500m. But, the field here is very competitive, with Ethiopia’s world silver medalist Diribe Welteji leading four other Ethiopians who have run 3:57.00 and below for the distance, Great Britain’s Laura Muir, Ireland’s Ciara Mageean, among others.