Lavillenie, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist, will make his first-ever trip to Hayward Field to compete in the 39th annual Prefontaine Classic on June 1st. Joining him will be silver medalist Björn Otto and bronze medalist Raphael Holzdeppe, giving the Eugene Samsung Diamond League meet a clean sweep of the London medal winners.
Lavillenie is the dominant vaulter on the planet. He owns a best of 19-9.5 (6.03) and has been ranked No. 1 in the world the last three years by Track & Field News, a streak last recorded by the legendary world record holder Sergey Bubka, who did it seven times (1991-97). At only 26 years of age, Lavillenie expects his best years are still to come, and vault experts consider him the best bet to join Bubka as the only men to clear 20-feet in the event.
Otto is another member of the 6-meter club (19-8.25 / 6.01). At 35 years old, the German is the oldest vaulter in the Pre field. Countryman Raphael Holzdeppe, just 23, was a 2008 Olympian at age 19 and has a best of 19-4.75 (5.91). For Lavillienie, Otto, and Holzdeppe, this will be their first visit to historic Hayward Field.
The only Pre Classic entrant familiar with the Eugene facility is American record holder Brad Walker, a 2-time Olympian. Three of Walker’s most memorable jumps came at Hayward Field, including his victories at the 2012 U.S Olympic Trials and 2009 U.S. national championships. But Walker still relishes his clearance of 19-9.75 (6.04) at the 2008 Pre Classic, the American record that still stands. It also still stands as the Pre Classic and Hayward Field records, as well as the highest that anyone has ever vaulted in the U.S.
Three additional world-ranked Olympians are confirmed for the Pre Classic field -- Malte Mohr of Germany, Steve Lewis of Great Britain, and Konstantinos Filippidis of Greece Mohr was ranked No. 3 in the world by Track & Field News for 2012, while Lewis was ranked No. 4, and Filippidis No. 6. In the All-Athletics.com rankings, which include 2013 marks, the Pre Classic field boasts the Nos. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 ranked athletes in the world.
Men’s Pole Vault
Tickets for the 39th annual edition of the Prefontaine Classic, to be held May 31-June 1 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., will go on sale Feb. 22nd from www.preclassic.com 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 1:30 till 3:00 p.m. PT on June 1st.
Steve Prefontaine is a legend in the sport of track & field and is perhaps the most inspirational distance runner in American history. Many call him the greatest ever. 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.