Nijel Amos is the world’s top-ranked 800-meter runner, but the Prefontaine Classic record holder who now calls Eugene home will face a formidable field in the Diamond League two-lapper in May. It’s a lineup that includes two undefeated runners owning the world’s fastest time and the World Indoor Championships gold medal, along with a young American who has the fastest Hayward Field personal best among the world-class group assembled.
Nijel Amos, 24, last year won his third IAAF Diamond League trophy – the most by anyone in this event – and earned his second No. 1 world ranking by Track & Field News. Still, he is likely remembered best for a non-winning effort. At the London Olympics he was the closest pursuer to world record setter David Rudisha as the 18-year-old Amos earned a silver – the first Olympic medal for Botswana of any kind – and destroyed the World Junior (U20) record by almost a second at 1:41.73.
Amos now trains in Eugene with Oregon Track Club Elite at Hayward Field, where his first race in 2014 was a Pre Classic record of 1:43.63. Two weeks ago he cruised 1:44.65 at Stanford, winning by over three seconds.
Donavan Brazier will turn 21 on April 15 and the Michigan native has annually challenged – or broken – records set before he was even born. Two of his most stunning came in his only collegiate season of 2016. His first 800 in a Texas A&M uniform wound up as a 4-second victory, breaking a 33-year-old indoor American Junior record. Brazier’s final collegiate race was one for the ages, running 1:43.55 at Hayward Field to break both the collegiate record and the Hayward record.
Last year Brazier won his first U.S. title at age 20, the youngest since Mark Everett in 1988. At the Penn Relays he anchored Team USA ’s sprint medley in 3:11.45, the fastest since Hall-of-Famer Johnny Gray anchored the world best of 3:10.76 in 1985. This recent indoor season, he came close three times to Gray’s American record of 1:45.00, set in 1992, ending just 0.1 seconds short.
Emmanuel Korir, 22, has been cautious this year, but the Kenyan’s only race – winning the Millrose Games in 1:44.21 – is still the year’s fastest in the world, outdoor included.
Korir, as a freshman at UTEP in 2017, came out of the gates blazing with a world-best 1:14.97 600 meters in January. Then in April, he torched an almost 3-second PR in 1:43.73, just short of Brazier’s CR. That spring he added a pair of altitude-aided mid-44 400s in El Paso, plus a jaw-dropping 400 relay split of 43.34 at sea level that few at any level have achieved. His only loss of the year came at the London Worlds, when he couldn’t advance out of the semis due to a hip flexor injury.
Poland’s Adam Kszczot, 28, rode an undefeated indoor campaign to his first major gold, winning last month’s World Indoor Championships. Outdoors, he’s also riding high with his best-ever No. 2 T&FN world ranking last year after a second-straight World Championships silver medal. This summer he will be looking for a third European Championships gold, which no 800-meter runner has ever won.
Kipyegon Bett, 20, earned the bronze medal at last year’s World Championships and compiled a season also impressive enough to rank No. 3 in T&FN’s world rankings. The Kenyan’s 2016 season was also world-class, winning the World Junior (U20) gold before setting his still-standing PR of 1:43.76 as an 18-year-old. This will be Bett’s first race in the U.S.
American Erik Sowinski, 28, stepped on the world podium for the first time in Portland by earning a bronze medal in the 2016 World Indoor. A three-time U.S. indoor champ, the Wisconsin native is a former indoor American record holder in the 600 meters and was also part of indoor AR-setting 4×8 and distance medley relay teams.
Kyle Langford, 22, narrowly missed a medal at last summer’s World Championships in his British homeland and reached his first T&FN world ranking of No. 7. He will return to Hayward Field, where he was a finalist in the 2014 World Junior Championships a year before winning the European Junior title. He was bronze medalist in the 2013 World Youth (U18) Championships.
|Men’s 800 Meters||Personal Best|
|Nijel Amos (Botswana)||1:41.73|
|Emmanuel Korir (Kenya)||1:43.10|
|Adam Kszczot (Poland)||1:43.30|
|Donavan Brazier (USA)||1:43.55|
|Kipyegon Bett (Kenya)||1:43.76|
|Erik Sowinski (USA)||1:44.58|
|Kyle Langford (Great Britain)||1:45.25|
Tickets for the 44th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 25-26 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are available now at www.GoDucks.com as well as from 1-800-WEBFOOT. Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience by NBC.
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 seven years by All-Athletics.com, the official data partner of the Diamond League.