Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tyson Gay is scheduled to compete at the Pre Classics

The 36th annual Prefontaine Classic will be part of the inaugural IAAF Diamond League circuit this season on July 3 at Hayward Field.

One of the main benefits of membership to the tour, which features 14 international track and field meets between May and August, is that each stop is guaranteed appearances by some of the sports’ elite performers.

This year, the Pre Classic welcomes four Diamond League “ambassadors” to Eugene — Ethiopian distance runner Kenenisa Bekele, Russian pole vaulter

Yelena Isinbayeva, U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay and American 400-meter runner Sanya Richards.

“Having four of the biggest names in the sport in the Pre Classic is gratifying,” meet director Tom Jordan said. “And the fact that two of them, Isinbayeva and Gay, have never competed at Pre before makes it very special.”

Gay, the double gold medalist in the 100 and 200 meters at the 2007 Osaka World Championships, and the American record-holder in the 100 at 9.69 seconds, ran at Hayward Field during the 2008 Olympic Trials and past U.S. championship meets.

However, this will be his first appearance at the Pre Classic where he is scheduled to compete in the 200.

Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, will be competing outdoors in the U.S. for the first time at the Pre meet. The 27-year-old Russian set the world record of 16 feet, 7 1/4 inches in Zurich last summer after a stunning no-height at the World Championships in Berlin.

Bekele, who has won three Olympic and five outdoor World Championship gold medals, holds the world records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

In 2008, Bekele ran the fourth-fastest 10,000 of all time (26:25.97) at the Pre Classic. He will run the 5,000 meters at this year’s meet.

Richards, 25, won the gold medal in the 400 at the World Championships in Berlin last summer. She has been ranked No. 1 in the world in the 400 five times by Track & Field News magazine.

She has run under 50 seconds in the 400 meters 41 times in her career, more than any other quarter-miler in history.

The 2010 Pre Classic will be broadcast live on NBC.