How good will the Prefontaine Classic women’s 100 hurdles be? So good that because of the 3-per-nation restriction at the Olympics, it’ll be deeper than the Games final. That’s because five superstar Americans—including the world’s four fastest since the London Games, plus the world’s No. 1 ranker from the last two years—will be meeting for the first time in the same race on U.S. soil. Whew!
Dawn Harper-Nelson has won the last four IAAF Diamond League titles, equaling the most for a woman in any event. She is among America’s most successful hurdlers, winning Olympic gold in 2008 at Beijing, then silver at London in 2012. She was ranked No. 1 in the world the last two years by Track & Field News.
Three of Harper-Nelson’s four U.S. titles were achieved at Hayward Field, including last year when she ran 12.48, her best on U.S. soil. Harper-Nelson, who will turn 32 in May, has been known to run best when it counts the most, and her Olympic gold and silver medals are the best ever won by an American in this event. She spent much of the winter working on revamping her start.
American record holder at 12.26, Brianna Rollins, 24, is the youngest gold medalist in this event at the World Championships, winning in 2013 at Moscow a day before turning 22. Just outside of another medal at last year’s World Championships, she claimed silver in last month’s World Indoor 60-meter version after winning her first U.S. title since rating No. 1 in the world in 2013. Coach Lawrence Johnson says, “This is the year that we get back to doing some of the things she was doing in ’13, but doing them better.”
Jasmin Stowers, 24, has run 12.40 or better more times than anyone in the last two years, setting her best of 12.35 in her Diamond League debut at Doha last year. She won the most Diamond League titles last year (3) in a season in which all were claimed by Americans. She was ranked No. 3 in the world rankings last year by T&FN.
Sharika Nelvis, 25, owns the two fastest wind-legal times at Hayward Field, both recorded in last year’s U.S. championships at 12.34 and 12.37, making her the only hurdler with more than two under 12.40 at Hayward Field. The Arkansas State grad is one of the few women who uses only 7 steps to the first hurdle. Her hard-charging performances earned her the No. 2 ranking in the world last year from T&FN.
Kendra Harrison, 23, is the youngest in the field. She is also 2016’s fastest, firing a 12.36 for April’s best in history to lead this year’s world list. Last year after winning the NCAA title, Keni rested some 45 minutes, then ran a PR 54.09 in the 400 hurdles, losing by just 0.35 seconds to eventual World Championships silver medalist Shamier Little.
Nia Ali, 27, is already a two-time World Indoor gold medalist, winning her second straight 60-meter version at the last month’s World Indoor Championships in Portland. The most versatile of the athletes in the field, she raised her heptathlon PR to 5870 in mid-April.
Tiffany Porter, 28, earned the bronze medal at the 2013 Moscow World Championships. Born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Porter is a dual British and American citizen who competes for Great Britain. She won five NCAA titles at Michigan.
Alina Talay, who will turn 27 on May 14, earned the bronze medal with her Belarusian record at last summer’s World Championships in Beijing.
It’s an epic collection of talent, most of it home-grown, in a race that will be a preview of the Olympic Trials and Olympic Games.
Women’s 100-Meter Hurdles Personal Best
Brianna Rollins (USA) 12.26
Sharika Nelvis (USA) 12.34
Jasmin Stowers (USA) 12.35
Kendra Harrison (USA) 12.36
Dawn Harper Nelson (USA) 12.37
Nia Ali (USA) 12.48
Tiffany Porter (Great Britain) 12.51
Alina Talay (Belarus) 12.66
Fans can follow the event lineups on eugene.diamondleague.com. The direct link to current start/entry lists is posted HERE and will include updates to all announced fields. Additional news, photos, and videos may be found on PreClassic.com, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Tickets for the 42nd annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 27-28 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now at www.GoDucks.com as well as from 1-800-WEBFOOT.
The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track & field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually. The Pre Classic’s results score has rated No. 1 or No. 2 in the world in each of the last five years by All-Athletics.com, the official data partner of the Diamond League. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and by NBC and NBC Sports Network.
Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is the most inspirational distance runner in American history. He set a national high school 2-mile record (8:41.5) while at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Oregon, that is the fastest ever in a National Federation-sanctioned race. While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4), and never lost a collegiate track race at any distance. As a collegiate junior, he made the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team and nearly won an Olympic medal, finishing 4th in the 5K at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at age 21. After finishing college in 1973 and preparing for a return to the Olympics in 1976, he continued to improve, setting many American records. His life ended tragically on May 30, 1975, the result of an auto accident, at age 24. The Pre Classic began that year and has been held every year since.