David Oliver Steals the Show at the 2010 Prefontaine Classic

July 4, 2010

Rising sensation David Oliver continued his stellar season by equaling the American record in the 110m hurdles at Saturday's 36th annual Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.

Only one week after winning at the U.S. Championships in Des Moines, Oliver blazed to an impressive victory in a time of 12.90 seconds - only .03 from Dayron Robles' world record.

Facing a quality field that included 2009 World Champion Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados, Oliver got off to good start by going smoothly over the first few hurdles. At about 50 meters, the powerfully-built U.S. champ started to create some distance on the field. Although Oliver did clip 2 of the last 3 hurdles, his strong lean at the tape placed him well ahead of second-place finisher Ryan Wilson.

Brathwaite meanwhile, got off to a decent start, but soon began hitting hurdles. By the halfway point of the race, he already trailed Oliver by a couple of meters. Brathwaite would eventually fade to eighth, ensuring that there would be no celebrating on Spring Garden for the Bajan massive.

Much like the late Steve Prefontaine himself, Oliver is a young, improving star with tremendous potential for the growth. He is on top of his game and thus far, has established himself as the man to beat at this event in 2010. More importantly, Oliver has yet to run his perfect race, as he presumably has some better times left in him.

Here are some of the other performances of note at the 2010 Prefontaine Classic:

Tyson Gay Suffers an Upset in the 200m

Universally regarded as the second-fastest man on Earth, Tyson Gay suffered a rare upset Saturday in the 200m when the speedy Walter Dix was able to hold off Gay's late charge in the final 100 meters and prevail in a meet-record time of 19.72 seconds.

Both men came off the turn nearly even and ahead of a field that included Olympians Shawn Crawford and Richard Thompson. However, as Gay began to settle in and accelerate, Dix displayed just enough of a burst to maintain a slim margin over him during the final 50 meters.

The victory was a quality win for Dix, a Beijing bronze medalist and arguably one of the top 5 sprinters in the world. Not only did he post a quality time against a top field, but he also showed some competitive fire going mano-a-mano down the stretch with Gay and defeating the second-best sprinter in the sport.

As for Gay, this loss should just be a mere blip on the radar screen. Gay entered the race somewhat rusty and with a hamstring he described as only "85%." The Prefontaine Classic was his first race of the season and it showed, as he was not race sharp and lacked that extra finishing gear. Despite that, Gay still posted an excellent sub-20 time of 19.76 seconds.

In addition, Gay conquered a psychological hurdle from his past. In the 2008 U.S. Olympic 200m Trials at Hayward Field, Gay suffered a devastating hamstring injury that later undermined his fitness at the Beijing Olympics. Now having completed the 200m at the same location without incident, Gay has essentially exorcised some of those past demons.

No other runner posted a sub-20 time.

Veronica Campbell-Brown Posts Outstanding Time in Women's 100m

No event at the "Pre" featured a field as loaded as the Women's 100m, and the ladies certainly did not disappoint.

Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown got off to an excellent start, exploding out of the blocks and pulling even at 20 meters with her typically quick-starting teammate Shelly-Ann Fraser.

By about 60 meters, Campbell-Brown began to separate from Fraser and take the lead. American Carmelita Jeter mounted a late charge with her outstanding closing speed, but neither she nor Fraser could catch Campbell-Brown, who finished in a personal best and meet record time of 10.78 seconds.

Four women posted sub-11 times, including Fraser (10.82) and Jeter (10.83).

Allyson Felix Prevails in Photo Finish in the Women's 400m

In a thrilling finish, versatile sprint star Allyson Felix was able to grind out a victory over a quality field featuring 6 of the top 8 women in the world.

Coming off the final turn, Felix trailed Debbie Dunn by a slight margin, but was able to gain the lead with about 80 meters left.

Felix held that slim lead over the final meters, withstanding a late charge from Shericka Williams on the outside to finish in 50.27 seconds. Amantle Montsho (50.30) and Williams (50.31) finished second and third respectively.

Tariku Bekele Runs First Sub-13 5000m on U.S. Soil

Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia made history Saturday by becoming the first person on U.S. Soil to break the 13 minute barrier in the Men's 5000m.

Bekele dominated the bell lap, as he held off a late charge from his countryman Dejen Gebremeskel to finish in a time of 12:58.93. Gebremeskel also came in under 13 minutes, posting a time of 12:59.30.

Saladino Defeats Phillips in Long Jump

Panama's Irving Saladino prevailed over American Dwight Phillips in the long jump with a winning mark of 8.46 meters (27 feet, 9 1/4 inches). Phillips, who had complained of a high groin strain, came in second with a jump of 8.41 meters.

Kiprop Wins Men's Bowerman Mile Again

For the second consecutive year, Kenyan and Beijing gold medalist Asbel Kiprop prevailed in the "Pre's" Bowerman mile. The tall Kiprop used his picturesque long strides to seize the lead entering the bell lap and never looked back. Despite a strong late kick from Amine Laalou, Kiprop was able to glide to victory in a time of 3:49.75. Laalou finished second in 3:50.22.

Americans Lopez Lomong and Bernard Lagat struggled to seventh and ninth-place finishes respectively.

Cantwell Dominates in the Shotput

American Christian Cantwell clearly was on his game Saturday, as he dominated his competitors with a winning throw of 73 feet, 6 1/4 inches. Cantwell was the only athlete at the "Pre" to surpass the 70-foot mark, as three of his throws went beyond that distance.

Savinova Wins Women's 800m

Russia's Mariya Savinova ran an intelligent tactical race in the Women's 800m, prevailing in a time of 1:57.56. In the final lap, Savinova positioned herself in second place with approximately 250 meters left. With 60 meters remaining she then made her move, finishing with a good kick and taking the lead for good.

Demus Sets Meet Record in Women's 400m Hurdles

American Lashinda Demus dominated the Women's 400m hurdles, crossing the finish line several meters ahead of second-place Jamaican Kaliese Spencer. Demus posted a meet-record time of 53.03 seconds, while Spencer came in at 53.78.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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