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Coleman_ChristianPC-Pre19.JPGChristian Coleman, photo by PhotoRun.net

Hanging with Track & Field Royalty at Pre


Palo Alto, California

June 30th, 2019

For those who want to experience the exhilaration of witnessing live the performances of the world's greatest track & field athletes, you can devote time and resources to travel to foreign lands to be in the stadium to savor in person the fights for the medals at either the Olympic Games or the World Championships. In doing so, you'll see all of the world's finest performers in a span of about 9 or 10 days. But there is another way: you can attend the Prefontaine Classic and be present for outstanding competitions with most of the same athletes. At Pre, you won't see every single finalist or even every event "athletics" has to offer. That said, the competitions you will see will be fierce battles among the world's best in that particular event. And you'll experience it all in about 2½ hours.

And for a couple of dozen journalists, there is an added benefit: the opportunity to engage in conversation in the mixed zone with a flood of Olympic and World Championship medalists and other global class performers - more in one afternoon than you'd ever have in a single session of a 10-day global championship. It is a rare, crowded, and frenzied occasion all crammed into just a few precious and exciting hours. Here are a select few of the tasty morsels offered up by some of the world's greatest athletes: after their competition on the Stanford campus:

Coburn_Emma1c-Pre19.JPGEmma Coburn, photo by Photorun.net

Reigning world champion Emma Coburn (USA), runner-up in the women's 3000 meter steeplechase: On the special atmosphere at the Prefontaine Classic. "Anytime we race at Prefontaine, whether it's in Eugene or here, is so much energy there's a real spirit, and the Americans really feel the love and support from the crowd. So it's super cool to be here." Her reaction to her mid-race fall: "The water jump is a super fun part of the steeplechase because that is when you can pass people or make moves, or if you're feeling good, that's when you can go around people, or if you're having a bad day, that's where you can lose momentum. So after I fell, something that I really tried to focus on is having good water jumps, and not worrying about the clock as much, and not worrying about the people behind me. Just really focusing on being strong and powerful on the water jump. Today I just had an extra few ounces of energy in me. On her ongoing battle with Kenya's Hyvin Kiyeng who finished 3rd in the steeple: "Kiyeng and I have been battling for 6-plus years, really evenly. And I really respect her, and we've had so many close battles, and, typically, she comes out inches ahead of me." Her take on her performance: "I think it was good. I obviously have some things to work on, but I'm really pleased with that performance."

Richardson_ShaCarri1a-Pre19.JPGSha'Carrie Richardson, photo by PhotoRun.net

Sha'Carri Richardson (USA), NCAA champion and world junior record holder at 100 meters, 4th place finisher [11.15] in Pre 100 meters: "Today's race felt good. I noticed some tweaks I could make, even throughout the race. It wasn't my best race, but I know it was an OK race for it to be my first pro race. But I just noticed some areas of improvement and will only get better." On her emotions going into the race. "My nerves tried to kick me in the butt, but I had to put them on the backburner. I was like, 'I need y'all to go away for a little bit.' But stepping up to the line, everything else disappeared. I was like: 'This is just another race, There's just other young women lining up against me, ready to run and compete just as well." On her potential to win. "I do believe I have the potential (to win), and with my hard work and with my mindset, to do well against these ladies. I do believe that I will one day be able to leave with the gold!"

Cheptegei_JoshuaFH-PreC19.JPGJoshua Cheptegai, photo by PhotoRun.net

Joshua Cheptegei (UGA), 2 mile winner [8:07.54] in an electrifying finish: "Wow! It was amazing. It was really a big atmosphere... the fans were yelling. They were like, "Woah, woah!" And it got me a little motivation to win the race."


Orlando Ortega, photo by PhotoRunr.net

Orlando Ortega (ESP) who raced 13.24 to win the men's 110 meter hurdles:: "I feel very happy. This is very important for me, so I am very happy for winning today. This is a beautiful competition. I try every time to better myself and do the best I can."

Coleman_Christian-Pre19.JPGChristian Coleman, photo by PhotoRun.net

Christian Coleman (USA) who ran 9.81 to win the 100 meter dash and better his own world leading time: "Anytime you can compete in the historic Hayward Field race, it's always good. I guess that (the event not taking place at Hayward Field) takes away some of the historic factors, but anytime you're able to compete on home soil, it's good." On his execution: "It felt pretty good. It felt pretty smooth. I'm sure my coach will have a couple things to say about it. so we'll go back and look at the film and just keep working. There's always room for improvement, always room to keep on working and keep getting better. Like I said before, now we're just going to go back to the lab and keep working and be ready for next time." On the Stanford track: "It's always good to run on home soil, man. The crowd was hyped. It was exciting." On his pre-race mindset: "I don't really try to shoot for a specific time. I just try to go out and compete, try to come out with a win, but, obviously, guys are steadily getting better and better and always running faster. So obviously, it's gonna take some pretty good training to get a gold medal at the end of the year."


Caster Semenya takes the 800m, photo by PhotoRun.net

Caster Semenya (RSA), Olympic and World Champion who won the women's 800 meters: "I felt a little bit heavy, a bit windy. I think I'm still sleeping at home at this time. It's almost midnight. But the race was good. Being able to win, being able to run the fastest time on American soil. I think it was fantastic. Obviously, when you run 800 meters, it's all about the splits that you run. I think that we're not yet really calculated well. But at the end of the day, you have to execute, you have to rectify those mistakes when you're running a race. Yeah, we are happy with the win, so I really cannot say much." On being a world class athlete will this dispute is ongoing "I don't think it's hard to be a runner. I think that it's hard to manage time. So for me, I think I've studied well. I know how to handle situations. I know how to manage my time. I know how to change a lot of people's perceptions of me. At the end of the day, we're all human. We all make mistakes, but it's all about how we handle ourselves. Asked if track is a "refuge" for her: "Of course (it is a refuge). When I run, I forget about everything. It's just all about me. It's all about me being free. It's about all me doing what I love. I always want to win when I step on the track since I was a little girl. I always wanted to win. It doesn't matter what I do, play soccer, play baseball, play boxing, stuff like that. I always want to win. I'm a very positive person, and I always want what's good for other people. I treat people with respect, of course, I appreciate them for who they are. I accept them. That's what I do. Like I said, for me it's all about inspiring the youth, so they can do better. On the ongoing litigation regarding her right to compete as a woman. "This is like a legal battle, and it's like war. But you don't give up. You beat me today, I beat you tomorrow. At the end of the day, it's all about me. It's all about doing what makes me happy. At the moment, like I said, I really do this for me. I'm a world champ. I'm an Olympic champion, and I've achieved everything I've ever wanted, so at the end of the day, I'm doing it for those who cannot fight for themselves."

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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