The truth is this: Steve Prefontaine was a fun loving, highly talented, highly motivated and creative young adult when he died. No one knows what he would have become, but there is a good chance he would have improved his American records from 2000m to 10,000m and, perhaps, helped change the sport. In American track & field, Steve Prefontaine was colorful and quotable. His gutty running, his obvious love of his sport and competition made him a figure of prominence.
Each year I go to the Pre Classic, I wonder what Steve Prefontaine would think of the meet. So, I pretend that Steve is there, sitting in the stands, up in the corner, with a couple friends. His hair is gray now, his mustache still there, and he is in Oregon sweats. Would he enjoy the meet? I think so. And as I am sitting next to him, sharing a bag of Taco Bell, and a few cold beverages, hidden in our back pack, here are the five things I learned from the 2017 Pre Classic.
1. The best race of the day was the women’s 200 meters. Putting that field together was a feat in itself. Elaine Thompson is the double Olympic sprint champion. Daphne Schippers is the finest sprinter that Europe has to offer. Allyson Felix has won more medals than anyone but Veronica Campbell-Brown. Shaunae Miller-Uibo is the 2016 Rio Champ at 400 meters. And finally, Tori Bowie. Torie Bowie won three Olympic medals, the silver at 100 meters, bronze at 200 meters and gold at the 4x100m relays. Torie choose the right moment to run 21.77, a huge PB, MR and WL!
2. Mo Farah goes out in style, winning the 5000 meters. Mo Farah is the finest distance racer in the world. If you have not broken him with 1000 meters to go, you are not going to break him. In the Pre Classic, the field left him clear until 300 meters, and so, Mo Farah opened up and put the race out of their grasp, doing the Mo Bot down the final straight and running the fastest time in the world.
3. Caster Semenya will break the WR for 800 meters. Caster Semenya literally naps in the 800 meters until the last 200 meters. She makes her entire race in that last 200 meters. Semenya can go out in 56 and hold it. She has the endurance and talent. She can run a 1:52 for 800 meters and just blow her competition away.
4. Mondo Duplantis is the future of the pole vault, right now he is still a kid, and that is good. At the Pre Classic, Mondo was beat by Renaud Lavillenie and Sam Kendricks, who were both quite cordial to the young, talented Swede via Louisanna. Mondo has the talent, arrogance and talent to go the whole way. Watch this exciting young man.
5. The finest competition of the weekend: Men’s Triple Jump. Every time Christian Taylor jumped, Will Claye countered. Finally in round five, Will Claye equalled Christian at 17.82m. So, Taylor responds with an 18.11 meter jump ! Will Claye responds with an 18.05m leap. And that, sports fans is how two astounding athletes compete with each other!