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Kiprop leads all-star mile field in Eugene

Asbel Kiprop winning the Bowerman Mile at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (Kirby Lee) © Copyright

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 9 – Three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop and Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz will return to the Prefontaine Classic on May 27 to compete in the IAAF Diamond League meeting’s most famous race, the Bowerman Mile.

Meeting organisers have secured every available top miler in the world, including the man who has the most Pre Classic wins and another who has the fastest time ever achieved outside of Europe.

Three others with major medals have PBs faster than 3:50, a time no US man has achieved in the past 10 years.

Kiprop is the world’s most dominant miler. Despite being edged out of a medal in Rio, Kiprop has won four global titles, including the Olympic gold medal from 2008 when he was still a teenager. He is also the most prolific winner of the 1500m/mile Diamond Trophy, having won in 2010, 2015 and 2016.

Last year the Kenyan claimed a record fourth Bowerman Mile title and this year he can venture into more rare Pre Classic record territory. All of his previous eight Bowerman Miles have been run within 4:00. One more sub-four-minute performance will give him the most ever recorded by one athlete in Eugene. His slowest performance at the Pre Classic is 3:51.54.

Centrowitz will return to Hayward Field with a medal rarely seen – USA’s first Olympic gold in the men’s 1500m since Mel Sheppard’s win in London in 1908. The win capped a career year for Centrowitz who also won the world indoor title in Portland in March.

The 27-year-old missed last year’s Prefontaine Classic as he was nursing an injury but he healed and responded the next month with the fastest time in US Championships history (3:34.09) before going on to win the Olympic title, covering the last lap in 50.5 to leave two previous Olympic gold medallists in his trail.

Elijah Manangoi of Kenya is the world 1500m leader, winning the IAAF Diamond League kick-off event in Doha. The world silver medallist has a 1500m best of 3:29.67 and finished third in last year’s Bowerman Mile.

Ayanleh Souleiman winning the Bowerman Mile at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (Kirby Lee) © Copyright

Ronald Kwemoi of Kenya is the Commonwealth silver medallist and has a mile best of 3:52.57. Last week the Olympic finalist destroyed a superb field over 3000m in Doha to win in 7:28.73, showing a turn of speed over the last 100 metres that will give all the other fast-finishers something to think about.

USA’s Clayton Murphy is the youngest in the field at 22 and is currently the 800m world leader. He clocked 1:43.60 at the Mt SAC Relays, and then anchored the victorious US 4x800m squad at the IAAF World Relays. The Olympic 800m bronze medallist will be running his first outdoor mile on the track, but he won the NCAA 1500m title last year in 3:36.23.

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At 34, New Zealand’s Nick Willis is the oldest in the field. Winner of silver and bronze medals at the 2008 and 2016 Olympics respectively, he is still chasing John Walker’s national mile record of 3:49.08.

The meeting record-holder at 3:47.32, Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti was just 0.05 from a medal in Rio last summer. He missed last year’s Pre Classic due to injury but won in 2015 and 2014, having finished fourth in 2013 and third in 2012.

Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat won the 1500m Diamond Trophy in 2012 and 2014. The 2011 world silver medallist will be making his seventh straight appearance in the Bowerman Mile.

World bronze medallist Abdelaati Iguider of Morocco was the runner-up in last year’s Bowerman Mile. He is Morocco’s third-fastest miler in history, trailing only Hicham El Guerrouj and Said Aouita, both world record-setters in the 1500m. The 2012 world indoor champion has placed in the top five at the past three Olympic Games.

Ryan Gregson won the Pre Classic international miles in 2010 and 2011. Last summer he became Australia’s first Olympic 1500m finalist since 1976.

The field also includes Kenyan trio Timothy Cheruiyot, Vincent Kibet and Bethwell Birgen, as well as Norway’s European champion Filip Ingebrigtsen, USA’s Ben Blankenship and Britain’s Charlie Grice.

The Bowerman Mile is named after Bill Bowerman, a legendary figure in athletics history who coached national championship teams four times at the University of Oregon between 1962 and1970, where he mentored Steve Prefontaine.

2017 IAAF Diamond League calendar:

5 May – Doha, QAT

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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

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21 Jul – Monaco, MON

20 Aug – Birmingham, GBR

24 Aug – Zurich, SUI

1 Sep – Brussels, BEL

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