EUGENE, United States of America, Apr 14 – Olympic champion Ruth Jebet will return to lead the 3000m steeplechase field at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, the third stop of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League series, on May 27.
Many eyes will be fixed on Jebet, who as a 19-year-old, re-wrote the record book last year. The Bahraini first cracked the nine-minute barrier in last year’s dramatic Pre Classic race, winning with a crowd-pleasing homestretch run by just .04.
She left no drama the rest of the summer, never losing and eventually breaking the world record with an 8:52.78 run at the Paris Diamond League stop. That came just 12 days after she dominated the Olympic final, winning by nearly ten seconds in 8:59.75.
Jebet owns three of history’s four sub-nine minute clockings.
The field includes Emma Coburn, whose bronze in Rio last summer was the first Olympic medal in the event for the US. She broke the national record on two occasions in 2016, first with 9:10.76 in the Eugene race where she finished third, and again in Rio where she clocked 9:07.63.
Beatrice Chepkoech, 25, made a huge breakthrough at last year’s Pre Classic.
In what was apparently her first 3000m steeplechase race, she ran a world-class 9:17.41, more than 20 seconds faster than her flat 3000m best. She finished fourth in Rio, running in medal position with two laps to go before being passed by Coburn.
Also in the field are Ethiopian Sofia Assefa, Kenyan Virginia Nyambura, Genevieve LaCaze of Australia and Gesa-Felicitas Krause of Germany.
Assefa, the Ethiopian record holder at 9:09.00, won Olympic bronze in 2012 and is the former Pre Classic record holder.
Nyambura, the 2015 Diamond League Trophy winner in the event, won gold at the 2001 Youth Olympics. LaCaze, 27, reached the Olympic final in two events last year, finishing ninth in the steeplechase and 12th at 5000m.
Krause, 24, has reached every global final since 2011 when she was 19 years old. She took world bronze in 2015, won the European title last summer and finished sixth in Rio.
Courtney Frerichs and Colleen Quigley of the US, are also on the start list. Both raced to NCAA titles on the Hayward Field track and finished eighth and 11th respectively, in last summer’s Olympic final.