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What We Learned: Pre Classic - Day 2

Published by
RunnerSpace.com/Pro   on May 31 2014, 10:36 PM

Meet Records, World Leaders and So Much More

By Scott Bush

Day two of the Nike Prefontaine Classic showed once again why the meet is consistently ranked among the very best in the world. World leaders across the board gave the fans at Hayward Field an incredible amount to cheer about, while a few surprise wins stunned the crowd. Here’s what we learned.

Men’s 800m

Fans knew this was the premier event of the day. With world record holder David Rudisha (Kenya) competing for the first time in a year, the best in the world in 2014 Nijel Amos (Botswana) and Mohammed Aman (Ethiopia) and Duane Solomon (USA) publicly saying he was going after the American record, the field was stacked and ready to blaze.

With a first lap of 54.4, Rudisha showed old form, positioning himself up front and looking like maybe-just-maybe he could come away with a win in his comeback race. The last 100m proved otherwise, as much of the field flew by him, with Amos taking the win in a world leading and meet record time of 1:43.63, while Aman also dipped under the 1:44 barrier in 1:43.99.

Rudisha faded to seventh, while Solomon finished last in 10th, but the race certainly lived up to the hype, as seven went under 1:45 and four came away with season best performances. The men’s 800m is arguably the most entertaining track event in the world at the moment.

Women’s 1,500m

It’s not every day you see an American really setting the tone in a Diamond League distance event, but Jenny Simpson did just that. Once pacer Phoebe Wright stepped off the track, Simpson took over the lead, pushed the pace and while she paid the price over the final 80 meters of the race, she earned a ton of respect among her competitors.

Simpson finished fourth, behind Hellen Obiri (KEN) in a world leading time of 3:57.05, Abeba Aregawi (SWE) and Faith Kipyego (KEN), but she set a personal best of 3:58.28, showing that she is really ready to have a season to remember.

Men’s 400m

Wow. That is the only way to describe what took place in this race. It was another matchup of one of the very best rivalries in track and field, as Kirani James (Grenada) and LaShawn Merritt (USA) went head-to-head for the second time this season. While Merritt got the early lead, it was James coming on strong at the end, as both athletes ran identical times of 43.97, while James won down to the thousandth of a second.

James and Merritt have a great deal of respect for one another, constantly complimenting the other in the mixed media area afterward, but they’ve clearly established themselves as the top two quarter milers in the world and their rivalry will only continue to build.

Women’s 200m

Among a world class field, 23 year old Tori Bowie (USA) showed she is a star to watch the rest of the season. Bowie ran a huge personal best of 22.18, besting the entire field and running a world leading time. Her win upset champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica), who actually finished last in the field, as well as Blessing Okagbare (Nigeria), Allyson Felix (USA) and Murielle Ahoure (Ivory Coast).

Even more impressive, Bowie finished fifth in the women’s long jump Friday evening in a new seasonal best of 6.82m. Two finish fifth, set a pair of outstanding marks, pick up her first Diamond League sprint win and best a variety of world-class competition, the former Southern Mississippi standout has to be riding a high just about now.

Men’s Triple Jump

Not going to lie, it was so much fun seeing Will Claye (USA) and Christian Taylor (USA) go 1-2 in the event. Claye, despite barely being able to practice the past few months due to injury, came away with a 17.66m win and meet record. Prior to that, he popped a 17.42m, which equaled Taylor’s runner-up best. Claye is rounding into form, as is Taylor, who changed his approach this season and has focused much of the early part of the outdoor season on the 400m. These two showed once again why they are both big-time medal threats for the foreseeable future.

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