Obiri leads strong Prefontaine Classic field

World 5000m champion Hellen Obiri highlights top entries for the Prefontaine classic at the Eugene/Stanford IAAF Diamond League slated for June 30.

The World Cross Country champion leads a formidable starting line-up with five runners who have won IAAF Diamond League trophies and major gold medals.

European 5,000m champion Sifan Hassan, Olympic Games 1500m silver medallist Genzebe Dibaba and the double Olympic champion Caster Semenya are all set to square off.

Obiri, who won the 5000m IAAF Diamond League title in 2018, remains indomitable this season after winning the 3,000m at the Doha meet in a world leading 8:25.60.

The 29-year-old is also fresh from winning the 16th edition of the Great Manchester Run on Sunday where she clocked 31:23- her first in the 10km race.

Obiri will renew her rivalry with Dibaba –  the 2018 world indoor 1,500 and 3,000-metres champion Genzebe Dibaba who finished second in Doha and owns seven world records or bests and her Pre-Classic record is unblemished – in three races with all of her Pre-Classic races having been in the 5000m, including 2015.

Also, in contention is the Ethiopian-born Dutch Hassan who won the 1,500m Diamond League trophy in 2015 and holds the European 5,000m record and the world 5km record.

Hassan won the 1500m Diamond League crown in 2015 and trailed it with World Indoor gold medal in 2016. The Dutch athlete is one of the most all-rounded runners, bragging an 800m Personal Best(PB) of 1:56.81 and a half marathon PB of 1:05:15.

Dibaba’s compatriot Almaz Ayana who missed all of last year’s races with a knee injury will also be in contention. The 10,000m Olympic champion and world record-holder will be competing in the US for the very first time. Ayana scooped the 2015 world 5,000m title, 2016 5,000m Diamond Trophy and 2017 world 10,000m title.

After reigning supreme in the Doha meet in 800m, Semenya will be competing for the first time under the IAAF new rules that requires female athletes with high testosterone hormone to use medication in while competing in any events ranging from 400m to a mile which affects Semenya’s 800m speciality.

Athletics – Diamond League – Doha – Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar – May 3, 2019 South Africa’s Caster Semenya in action before winning the women’s 800m REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

The 28-year-old South African has won three Diamond League trophies in  800m (2016-18) and won the Continental Cup 400 in 49.62 last September.

While Semenya earned 1,500 bronze at the London Worlds (and owns a best of 3:59.92), she’s taken a major step up in distance this year. In March she ran her first 5km and won the South African Championships in late April at 16:05.97 at high altitude, winning by almost 8 seconds on the last lap over former NCAA champion Dominique Scott Efurd.

Semenya’s only races in the U.S. have been Pre-Classic 800s – winning in 2017 and 2018 (the latter in 1:55.98 the fastest ever on U.S. soil) after a second-place in 2011.

Other Kenyans who will join Obiri are the 2017 World Cross Country bronze medallist Lilian Kasait, World junior Cross-country champion Beatrice Chebet and Caroline Chepkoech.

Additional reporting by IAAF