Farah, Bowie and Baker win at Prefontaine Classic
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Mo Farah pounded his chest after crossing the finish line on a U.S. track for perhaps the final time.
Farah won the 5,000 meters at the Prefontaine Classic at Oregon’s Hayward Field on Saturday in 13 minutes, 0.70 seconds.
The British distance specialist who defended his Olympic titles in both the 5,000 and 10,000 at the Rio Games last year plans to retire from track races after the world championships in London this August. He’s said that after that he’ll likely focus on the marathon.
American Ronnie Baker bested both countryman Justin Gatlin and Canadian Andre De Grasse to win the men’s 100, while Tori Bowie prevailed over a strong field that included Allyson Felix and Jamaican Elaine Thompson to win the 200 on a brilliantly sunny but breezy day.
Farah, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth late last year, was the star of the Diamond League’s lone stop in the United States, holding off Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha and Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworwor.
He beamed when he said the victory answered those naysayers who scoff that he is too old at 34.
“If I wasn’t enjoying it, I wouldn’t be winning,” Farah said, holding his toddler son Hussein. “I’m happy, I’m enjoying and I work hard. As long as you work hard and you believe in yourself you can come up with the results.”
Considered one of the strongest 5,000 fields in recent memory, Farah was joined in the race by Paul Chelimo, who won silver in the 5K in Rio, and Kenyan Paul Tanui, the silver medalist in the 10K. The field was crowded with 29 entrants.
Farah started moving up in the pack at the halfway point and with two laps to go he took the lead among some jostling by his challengers. Crossing the finish he pounded his chest in victory.
Baker, a two-time NCAA champion in the 60, was happy to spoil the Pre’s anticipated showdown between Gatlin and De Grasse. He won in a wind-aided 9.86 seconds.
“I felt great,” Baker said. “I felt like I had a really good start for the first time in a long time, so that was amazing and after that I just went through my motions, executed and came out with a victory.”
De Grasse finished fourth while Gatlin was fifth.
Gatlin, who came in second to Usain Bolt at the Olympics last year, said he’s working toward the U.S. national championships next month in Sacramento, California. He had a strong finish to win the Golden Grand Prix last week in Japan, and he said he had a good start in the Pre.
“Now I’ve just got to piece them together,” he said.
Americans Devon Allen, Aries Merritt and David Oliver challenged Olympic champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica in the 110 hurdles, with McLeod coming out on top in 13.01 seconds. Ronald Levy was second and Allen — who was running on his home college track — was third.
Allen, who also played football at Oregon, decided to go pro in track last November after making the U.S. Olympic team.
Russian Sergey Shubenkov, the 2015 world champion, encountered issues with obtaining a visa in time to compete in the event. Prefontaine director Tom Jordan said that for the first time in nearly a decade, some 10 athletes were denied or faced delays in obtaining visas for the event, the lone U.S. stop on the elite Diamond League series.
Morolake Akinosun won the women’s 100 in 10.94. The race featured Tianna Bartoletta, who won the gold medal in Rio in the long jump and finished second to Brittney Reese in that same event at the Pre on Friday night.
Bowie seemed as surprised as anyone that she won the 200, describing the race as “practice” for nationals. She finished in a meet record 21.77 seconds.
“My coach and my manager made sure they clarified that this was all to prepare for the nationals, so I was like, ’OK, it’s just practice then,” she said. “I executed my plan and it went well.”
Felix said her race wasn’t “that great” but it served a purpose: “I wanted to get out here and see where I was at.”
Other winners Saturday included Americans Jasmine Stowers, who won the 100 hurdles in 12.59; Christian Taylor, who won the Triple Jump in 59 feet, 5 inches; LaShawn Merritt, who ran the 400 in 44.79; and Sam Kendricks, who won the pole vault with a leap of 19 feet, 2 3/4 inches.
South Africa’s Caster Semenya won the women’s 800 in 1:57.78; Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon won the 1,500 in 3:59.67.