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Steeplechase summit at Eugene's Diamond League

By Eugene, Oregon/ IAAF | March 25th 2015

The world’s top steeplechase stars will be heading to the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on May 30 for what could be a rehearsal of the battle for the medals at the Beijing World Championships.

Jairus Birech, the fastest man in the world over the barriers last year and US record-holder Evan Jager are the two biggest names on current form for the race, which is part of the Diamond League meeting.

Last year, the 22-year-old Birech made a big breakthrough, dominating the Diamond League with six wins and getting victories at the African Championships and IAAF Continental Cup.

His time of 7:58.41 in Brussels was the fastest in the world by almost five seconds. Jager broke his own US record by running 8:04.71 in the same Brussels race. He owns the five fastest times ever by an American, all faster than 8:10, and is the only US man with more than one. Last year in Eugene, with this event not on the menu, Jager set a 3:53.33 mile personal best.

Ezekiel Kemboi will also be in Eugene, and is the reigning Olympic and world champion.

At the 2013 World Championships, Kemboi provided a Kenyan one-two with his young compatriot Conseslus Kipruto, who fell just 0.36 short of becoming part of a select group of athletes who have won titles at world youth, junior and senior level.

After Kemboi, France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi-Banabbad is the next most decorated runner in the field, with a pair of Olympic Games silver medals and World Championships bronzes from the past two editions of both events.

He was infamously disqualified last summer after apparently winning his third straight European title, for taking off his jersey in celebration before crossing the finish line, but he is the only non-Kenyan to have won a Diamond League race in this event in the circuit’s five-year history.

Then there is the fastest man in the Eugene field, Paul Kipsiele Koech with 7:54.31. Abel Mutai, the Olympic bronze medallist, Barnabas Kipyego are all in the line-up and so is Jonathan Muia Ndiku, a two-time world junior champion.

North Americans Dan Huling and Matt Hughes add more local talent to the field.


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