Pre Classic to welcome TFN Women Athlete of Year, Valerie Adams, to Eugene, release, note by Larry Eder

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Valerie Adams, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

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Valerie Adams, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

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Valerie Adams, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

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Valerie Adams, 
photo by PhotoRun.net


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Valerie Adams, 
photo by PhotoRun.net


The Nike Prefontaine Classic is two days of track & field nirvana for track geeks in the land of track and field enchantment in the Northwest: Eugene, Oregon. The Pre Classic celebrates the life of the late Steve Prefontaine, the James Dean of athletics, who held ever AR from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters. 

The meet has expanded to two days, with the free night of track and field on Friday, which last year honored the late Geoff Hollister, the second promo guy at Nike (Pre was the first). 

Nike puts a huge effort into this meet. For most of its first fifteen-twenty years, the Pre Classic was the only meet in North America that dared to compare itself to summer European meets. The Pre Classic lead by example, with great fields and three hours of top notch competition. It is, for this keen observer of the sport, the yearly litmus test on where track & field in particular, and running in general ranks with key players of  Nike, Inc.  There are many years when one can find the major power brokers within the Swoosh in attendance, as well as many of the top managers and agents. 

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Geoff Hollister, Steve Prefontaine, circa 1974, 
photo courtesy of Nike Communications

In the 1995 meet, Frank Shorter showed up and told the assembled masses how Pre's death changed his view of life. There have been exciting moments in the positive sanctuary that is Hayward Field, and the majority of them have been about amazing depth of fields and great mano a mano and womeno a womeno competitions. 

In 2001, Alan Webb destroyed the high school boy's outdoor mile record, and was greeted by Hicham El Gerroujj at the finish line. In 2011, Mo Farah won his first foray into the 10,000 meters in a brilliant run. In 2012, Tirunesh Dibaba showed that, after two years of bad health, she was ready to defend her 10,000m title in London.  Those are a few of the many moments that make the Pre Classic so special. 

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Mo Farah, 
photo by PhotoRun.net

This year is no exception. In the men's high jump, men's pole vault, the fields are impressive. Today, the Pre Classic announced that the TFN Women Athlete of the year, Valerie Adams, the first women shot putter in three decades to be athlete of the year, will be competing in Eugene. 

Valerie Adams, of New Zealand, has been the most dominant women thrower of the past half decade. From 2007, in Osaka, when she took the gold at the World Championships, through her fine performance in London 2012, where she ultimately received the gold in the shot put, Valerie Adams has shown her competitiveness, but also her sense of humor, her focus and her class as an athlete. 

Valerie Adams has provided Runblogrun.com with some fun interviews, and we look forward to seeing her go 22 meters in Eugene, Oregon! No Pressure, Valerie! 

PRE CLASSIC TO WELCOME WOMAN 

ATHLETE 

OF THE YEAR

 
            Eugene, Oregon - Can it get any better?  2012 Woman Athlete of the YearValerie Adams headlines the latest from the Prefontaine Classic, which now boasts  a clean sweep of the 2012 Olympic medalists in the first four events that have been announced.
            The 39th Prefontaine Classic will be held at historic Hayward Field on May 31-June 1, with these two events on Friday, May 31, a world-class evening of track & field free to the public thanks to long-time title sponsor NIKE.
            Adams leads the women's shot put, an event the 28-year-old from New Zealand has dominated since 2006, having been ranked No. 1 in the world in six of the last seven years by Track & Field News.
           Already owner of the 2008 Olympic gold, Adams added London as part of an undefeated 2012 campaign that saw her end the season more than two feet better than her nearest competitor.  It was more than enough for the international panel at T&FN to vote her as Woman Athlete of the Year, the first shot putter to win it in more than three decades.
           In 2013, the international target for track & field is Moscow in August for the World Championships.  Adams has had plenty of success at the Worlds - winning gold in 2007, '09, and '11 - and the Pre Classic lineup will offer a preview of the challengers she will face in Moscow.
           Leading the charge are London silver and bronze medalists Yevgeniya Kolodko of Russia and Lijiao Gong of China, respectively.  Add the American duo of Jill Camarena-Williams and Michelle Carter, who are two of the three longest Americans in history, with Camarena-Williams co-holder of the American record.  That gives the Pre Classic the Top 5 world-ranked putters from 2012.
           Two more Olympic finalists are confirmed in Xiangrong Liu of China and Irina Tarasova of Russia, who ranked Nos. 9 and 10 last year by T&FN.
 
Women's Shot Put  
Valerie Adams (New Zealand)...........69-8¼(21.24)
Yevgeniya Kolodko (Russia)...............67-2¼(20.48)
Lijiao Gong (China)..............................66-9¼(20.35)
Jillian Camarena-Williams (USA)......66-2½(20.18)
Michelle Carter (USA)...........................65-2(19.86)
Irina Tarasova (Russia).......................63-6(19.35)
Xiangrong Liu (China)..........................63-1½(19.24)
 
 
           The women's hammer throw actually has more than a sweep of Olympic medals from London - it can add the complete set from the 2008 Beijing Games as well.  The Pre Classic women's hammer will be part of the IAAF Hammer Challenge, an international grand-prix series of competitions around the world exclusively for the hammer throw.  This is the first time that a meet in the U.S. will be part of the IAAF Hammer Challenge.
           The six hammer throwers with Olympic medals represent six of the top seven athletes in the T&FN rankings, and the last three women to hold the world record.  Befitting a close competition, the order of London medalists is different from their world rankings last year.  Tatyana Lysenko of Russia won gold in London, but was ranked No. 3 in the world last year by T&FN.  Betty Heidler of Germany earned the No. 1 world ranking, though taking the bronze in London.  The silver medalist at London,Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland, was ranked No. 2 in the world.  Heidler is the world record holder at 260-7 (79.42), while Wlodarczyk and Lysenko are not only former world record setters but also winners of the last two World Champs gold medals.
           The Beijing trio of medalists are Oksana Menkova of Belarus, Yipsi Moreno of Cuba, and Wenxiu Zhang of China.  They will be joined by Jessica Cosby and AmberCampbell of the U.S.  Both are 2-time Olympians, and Cosby set the American record at last year's Pre Classic.
 
Women's Hammer Throw  
Betty Heidler (Germany).......................260-7(79.42)
Oksana Menkova (Belarus).................258-2(78.69)
Tatyana Lysenko (Russia)..................257-7(78.51)
Anita Wlodarczyk (Poland)...................256-11(78.30)
Wenxiu Zhang (China).........................252-7(76.99)
Yipsi Moreno (Cuba).............................251-4(76.62)
Kathrin Klaas (Germany)...................
Jessica Cosby (USA)...........................
249-6
243-5
(76.05)
(74.19)
Amber Campbell (USA).......................234-8(71.52)
 
           In the All-Athletics.com rankings, which combine 2012 accomplishments with ongoing 2013 marks, the Pre Classic field includes the Nos. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 ranked athletes in the world in the women's shot put and--wait for it--the Nos. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 in the women's hammer.
           Previously announced, the other two events whose fields include a complete sweep of Olympic medals in London are the men's pole vault and men's high jump.  Organizers continue to build fields and will announce more as they are confirmed.
            Tickets for the Saturday session of the 39th annual Prefontaine Classic areavailable now from www.PreClassic.com and from 1-800-WEBFOOT.  Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and by NBC Sports from 1:30 till 3:00 p.m. PT on June 1st.
           The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track and field meet in America and is part of the elite IAAF Diamond League of meets held worldwide annually. Last year's Pre Classic presented the most 2012 Olympic gold medalists (20) of any invitational meet in the world.
            Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is perhaps the most inspirational distance runner in American history. He set a national high school 2-Mile record while at Coos Bay High School that lasted nearly two decades.  While competing for the University of Oregon, he won national cross country championships (3) and outdoor track 3-Mile/5000-meter championships (4) every time he competed, and never lost a collegiate race at any distance.  As a collegiate junior, he made the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team and nearly won an Olympic medal, finishing 4th in the 5K at the 1972 Munich Olympics, at age 22.  After finishing college in 1973 and preparing for a return to the Olympics in 1976, he continued to improve, setting many American records.  His life ended tragically on May 30, 1975, the result of an auto accident, at age 24.  The Pre Classic began soon after and has been held every year since.

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