Eugene, Oregon – Jamaican Omar McLeod’s hopes for a third straight Prefontaine Classic victory this May will require him to beat the deepest field of 110 meter hurdlers ever assembled in meet history.
McLeod is the headliner of the first announced track event for the Pre Classic, the only U.S. stop on the IAAF Diamond League tour. He’ll be joined by the last hurdler other than the Jamaican to win a major global championship, a former University of Oregon two-sport star and the current World Record Holder.
All eight of the confirmed entrants have PRs of 13.14 or better, making this the Pre Classic’s deepest hurdles ever and ensuring McLeod’s bid for a three-peat will require him to be at his best.
Omar McLeod, 23, is the youngest ever to own both the Olympic and World Championships gold medals at the same time in the 110-meter hurdles. His victories in London last August and in Rio the year before were dominant, much like his Pre Classic victories earlier in the same year. His 2016 Pre Classic win – in 13.06 by a huge 0.32-second margin – is the most dominant the meet has ever witnessed.
He has given the world three straight seasons with a sub-13 clocking. That’s a rarity in the men’s high hurdles – only Allen Johnson can claim such a streak, and he started his at age 24.
McLeod will turn 24 on April 25. The Jamaican’s speed is a unique weapon – with a 100 PR of 9.99, he remains the only one to break both the 10-second (100) and 13-second (110 hurdles) barriers.
Sergey Shubenkov, 27, won last year’s Diamond Trophy and the World silver behind McLeod after a gold medal performance in 2015, completing a rare sweep of medals (he also earned bronze in 2013). The Russian native owns a PR of 12.98, the fastest from anyone in eastern Europe.
World record holder Aries Merritt, 32, is gradually regaining the form he showed in winning Olympic gold in London and subsequently setting his 12.80 WR that also clinched a Diamond Trophy. He was rated No. 3 by T&FN in last year’s world rankings, a Top 10 ranking he first made back in 2006. Earlier this month, he was inches away from a medal at the World Indoor 60-meter version he also won in 2012.
Merritt has hurdled other barriers. Days after a World Championships bronze in 2015, he underwent a kidney transplant from his sister. His shortened 2016 season saw him nearly make the always-strong U.S. Olympic team.
Devon Allen will need little introduction at Hayward Field. Now 23, the former favorite as a Duck on the football field twice swept the NCAA and U.S. titles in 2016 and 2014. His best of 13.03 – set in July at Hayward Field to win the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials – is the fastest by an American on U.S. soil since 2014. He lowered his rarely-run open 100 best to 10.26 in Australia last week.
Orlando Ortega, 26, began his career in Cuba and now represents Spain, the country for which he earned a silver medal at Rio Olympics. He ran his PR 12.94 in 2015 and is the only man in this event with six straight years in the T&FN world rankings.
Andrew Pozzi, who will turn 26 on May 15, won the World Indoor 60m hurdles title in Birmingham earlier this month. Outdoors, the two-time Olympian has a best of 13.14.
Jamaican Ronald Levy, 25, is the No. 3 Jamaican ever with a best of 13.05. He was a surprise runner-up in last year’s Pre Classic, then with a PR 13.10.
Dimitri Bascou, 29, earned the Olympic bronze medal in Rio, the best by a Frenchman in this event since Guy Drut’s 1976 gold. He also earned bronze in the indoor 60-meter hurdles at the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland.
|Men’s 110-Meter Hurdles||Personal Best|
|Aries Merritt (USA)||12.80|
|Omar McLeod (Jamaica)||12.90|
|Orlando Ortega (Spain)||12.94|
|Sergey Shubenkov (ANA)||12.98|
|Devon Allen (USA)||13.03|
|Ronald Levy (Jamaica)||13.05|
|Dimitri Bascou (France)||13.12|
|Andrew Pozzi (Great Britain)||13.14|
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.