Eugene, Oregon – The only American women besides Jackie Joyner-Kersee to win Olympic gold in the long jump will lead the world’s best at the Prefontaine Classic.
(The 43rd Prefontaine Classic, a member of the IAAF Diamond League of elite international track & field meets, will be held May 26-27, 2017 at historic Hayward Field.)
The incredible field includes all three of last year’s Olympic medalists from Rio. They waged a thrilling battle that ended with two lifetime bests and a podium full of the last three Pre Classic winners.
The Prefontaine focus will be on the Americans who completed the first U.S. 1-2 Olympic finish with Tianna Bartoletta earning gold less than an inch ahead of Brittney Reese, the London gold medalist.
Brittney Reese, 30, is the most accomplished jumper in the field. She has eight major medals – seven of them gold. Despite earning her only silver in Rio, Reese finished the season ranked No. 1 in the world by Track & Field News for the sixth time. Her previous five (2009-13) marked the event’s first time a jumper had put up five consecutive No. 1s.
Reese, an active Twitter user with the handle @DaLJBeast, was the favorite going into Rio, having won a third World Indoor gold in Portland and then her first Pre Classic in five attempts dating to 2009. And especially so after jumping a PR 23-11¾ (7.31) at Hayward Field to win her 10th U.S. title with the farthest jump on U.S. soil since Joyner-Kersee’s American record 24-7 (7.49) in 1994.
And especially so after jumping a PR 23-11¾ (7.31) at Hayward Field to win her 10th U.S. title with the farthest jump on U.S. soil since Joyner-Kersee’s American record 24-7 (7.49) in 1994.
She took the lead in round 5 in Rio at 23-3¼ (7.09), poised to become the first woman to successfully defend her Olympic crown. After being passed by Bartoletta, Reese improved in the last round to 23-5½ (7.15), less than an inch away from gold. Reese’s three Olympic finals are topped among Americans only by Joyner-Kersee’s four in this event.
Tianna Bartoletta, 31, won two gold medals in Rio – first in the titanic long jump, then two days later leading off the U.S. 4 x 100-meter team with the second-fastest time in history at 41.01. She led off the fastest-ever squad four years earlier, when the Americans set the world record of 40.82 in the London Olympics.
Bartoletta’s amazing timing for long jump bests in big meets dates back to 2005, when as a 19-year-old she won the World Championships in Helsinki in a PR 22-7¼ (6.89). A year later, she scored an indoor best with a gold at the 2006 Moscow World Indoor Championships.
Her gold medal at the 2015 Beijing World Championships came with a lifetime best 23-5½ (7.15), and if Bartoletta hadn’t jumped her 23-6¼ (7.17) best in Rio she would have switched positions with Reese. Even her lone Pre Classic victory in 2015 was achieved with a wind-aided 23-4 (7.11), her best under any conditions at the time.
The third medalist from Rio is Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic, who will turn 27 on May 10. After being displaced from the gold medal position – first by Reese, then Bartoletta – Spanovic responded with the two longest performances of her career but still wound up with the bronze medal.
It matched her finishes in the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, won by Reese and Bartoletta, respectively. Her top international effort came last year in Portland, where she earned silver at the World Indoor Championships.
Since the Rio Games, Spanovich has been on a tear. She won the Diamond League trophy last year and ended the season with a lifetime best of 23-3½ (7.10) – a mark she improved to 23-9 (7.24) last month with a victory at the European Indoor Championships in Belgrade, the capital of her home country. Spanovic has jumped 22-7 (6.88) twice at the Pre Classic, winning in 2014 and finishing 2nd to Reese last year by just over an inch.
Lorraine Ugen, 25, of Great Britain will return to the Pre Classic, where she was 3rd the last two years and was ranked No. 5 in the world by T&FN both years. A two-time NCAA champion while at Texas Christian, she was bronze medalist at last year’s World Indoor and jumped a PR 22-10½ (6.97) to earn silver at last month’s European Indoor behind Spanovich.
Estonia’s Ksenija Balta, 26, was ranked No. 4 in the world last year by T&FN, her first appearance in the world top 10 since 2009. She won the European Indoor that year and finished 2nd at the Pre Classic by one centimeter with the day’s best wind-legal jump. She was 6th in Rio last summer and 5th in the European Indoor last month, both with a best 22-3½ (6.79).
Darya Klishina, 26, was Russia’s lone participant in track & field at Rio last summer. Klishina, who lives and trains in Florida, has been in the T&FN top 10 world rankings all but one year since she was 19 in 2010 – she was No. 3 and moved up to No. 2 in 2011. She has made every major world final since 2010 and won the European Indoor title in 2011 and ’13. In 2014 she jumped just as far as Spanovic at the Pre Classic (22-7/6.88) but finished 2nd due to a lower second-best mark.
|Women’s Long Jump||Personal Best|
|Brittney Reese (USA)||23-11¾||(7.31)|
|Ivana Spanovic (Serbia)||23-9||(7.24)|
|Tianna Bartoletta (USA)||23-6¼||(7.17)|
|Darya Klishina (Russia)||23-1¾||(7.05)|
|Lorraine Ugen (Great Britain)||22-10½||(6.97)|
|Ksenija Balta (Estonia)||22-6½||(6.87)|