Published by - The official Prefontaine Classic website
May 9th 2012, 5:01pm | 2579 views
Pre Classic

Pre Classic
May 9, 2012

For Immediate Release


             Eugene, Oregon – Americans Jenn Suhr and Chaunte Lowe are very familiar with success.  They have both won gold medals or been ranked No. 1 in the world.  At the 38th Prefontaine Classic, they will find plenty of international competition with similar accomplishments, as the road to the 2012 London Olympics makes a major stop as part of the Samsung Diamond League at Hayward Field on June 1-2.

             Suhr, the 2008 Olympic silver medalist and American record holder outdoors and indoors in the pole vault, was ranked No. 1 in the world last year by Track & Field News.  Suhr has the highest personal best in the field, holding the American record at 16-1.75 (4.92).  Among her challengers at Pre are none other than the gold and silver medalists at last year’s Daegu World Championships: Fabiana Murer of Brazil and Martina Strutz of Germany.  Suhr finished 4th at Deagu last year and aims for redemption.

             Murer and Strutz, like Suhr and others slated to compete, are over 30 in an event where experience plays a major factor in success as athletes can get better with age.  Murer, in addition to winning the gold medal at the World Championships, was last year ranked No. 1 in the world in 2010 and has been ranked among the top 10 in each of the last six years by Track & Field News.  She has vaulted 15-11 (4.85).  Strutz, with a best of 15-9 (4.80), earned the silver last year in Daegu.

             The women’s pole vault field has plenty more, including two with World Championships gold medals:  Svetlana Feofanova of Russia and Anna Rogowska of Poland.  Feofanova, the 2003 World Championships gold medalist, won medals at the 2004 (silver) and 2008 (bronze) Olympics.  Feofanova’s best is 16-0 (4.88).  Rogowska, the 2009 World Championships gold medalist, was also the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist.  She has a best of 15-11 (4.85).

             The veterans will be challenged by a two youngsters, led by 20-year-old Holly Bleasdale of Great Britain.   With a best of 15-11.75 (4.87), Bleasdale was the bronze medalist at this year’s World Indoor Championships in Instanbul.  But 18-year-old Angelica Bengtsson of Sweden is on a big-time rise.  She won golds at the 2010 World Junior Championships and 2011 European Junior Championships.

             Another exciting entrant is former two-time NCAA champion Kylie Hutson, with a best of 15-5 (4.70).
Women’s Pole Vault
Fabiana Murer (Brazil)
Jennifer Suhr (USA)
Svetlana Feofanova (Russia)
Anna Rogowska (Poland)
Martina Strutz (Germany)
Angelica Bengtsson (Sweden)
Holly Bleasdale (Great Britain)
Kylie Hutson (USA)
             Chaunte Lowe seems like a new person after the birth of her second child in April 2011.  This winter the two-time Olympian jumped higher than she ever has indoors – an American record 6-7.5 (2.02) – and won her first gold medal by claiming the World Indoor Championships in Instanbul.  Her best remains an American record outdoors of 6-8.75 (2.05).

             She will once again meet many of the best in the world, including six of last year’s top 10 ranked by T&FN.  Prime among them is No. 1 Anna Chicherova of Russia, who won last year’s gold medal at the Daegu World Championships after two straight silver medals and a 2008 Olympic bronze.

             A stunning group of world-class talent will contend, including four more 2008 Olympians from around the globe.  Emma Green Tregaro of Sweden was a bronze medalist at the 2005 World Championships and has jumped the highest of the group at 6-7 (2.01).  She has been a finalist at every Olympics or World Championships since 2005 and was ranked No. 6 in the world last year by T&FN.  Svetlana Shkolina of Russia was ranked No. 4 in the world by T&FNlast year and has a best of 6-6.75 (2.00).  Melanie Melfort of France has a best of 6-5.5 (1.97) and was ranked No. 8 in the world last year.  Xingjuan Zheng of China was ranked No. 10 and has a best of 6-4.75 (1.95).

             The world-class talent doesn’t end there.  Sweden’s Ebba Jungmark was the silver medalist behind Lowe at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul this March.  She was ranked No. 7 last year by T&FNand has a best of 6-5 (1.96).  Ariane Friedrich of Germany, a bronze medalist at the 2009 World Championships, has a best of 6-9 (2.06).  Mariya Kuchina, last year’s European Junior champ from Russia, is still just 19 and has a best of 6-5.5 (1.97).
Women’s High Jump
Anna Chicherova (Russia)
Svetlana Shkolina (Russia)
Xingjuan Zheng (China)
Emma Green Tregaro (Sweden)
Melanie Melfort (France)
Ebba Jungmark (Sweden)
Chaunte Lowe (USA)
Ariane Friedrich (Germany)
Mariya Kuchina (Russia)
             With the addition of the women’s pole vault and high jump to the previously announced fields, 26 athletes in this year’s Prefontaine Classic have won a total of 59 Olympic or World Championships medals (26 gold, 16 silver, 17 bronze).  The 26 medalists include 14 with at least one gold medal.  
            Tickets for the 38th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held June 1-2 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., are on sale now from and from 1-800-WEBFOOT.  Sponsored by NIKE continuously since 1984, the Prefontaine Classic will be shown live to an international audience and on NBC from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 2.

            The Prefontaine Classic is the longest-running outdoor invitational track and field meet in America and is part of the elite Samsung Diamond League of 14 meets held worldwide annually.  Last year’s Pre Classic results ranked highest among all of the 14 meets, according to, the official data Partnerof the Samsung Diamond League.

            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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