From a stacked men's 100-metre sprint to can't-miss head-to-head matchups in several other events, this weekend's fourth stop on the Diamond League track and field calendar in Eugene, Ore., has the look of a Rio Olympic Games preview.
The 42nd annual Prefontaine Classic will be a who's who of athletics at Hayward Field, including Canadians Andre De Grasse (100), Shawn Barber (pole vault), Christabel Nettey (long jump), Tim Nedow (shot put), Johnathan Cabral (110 hurdles), Sheila Reid (1,500), Gen Lalonde (3,000 steeplechase) and Mohammed Ahmed and Cam Levins (5,000).
The two-day event begins Friday at 9:55 p.m. ET, with Nettey and Nedow competing while the other Canadians are in action Saturday (CBCSports.ca, 4 p.m. ET).
"Eugene's always been a place where track fans fly from all over the world to come to. It's their own mini Olympics," Canada's Donovan Bailey, who won Olympic gold in the 100 sprint at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games, told CBCSports.ca this week. "You always hear about places where you feel the energy from the crowd when you walk on the track, and that's Eugene."
Here's a breakdown of the Canadian content:
De Grasse: The first-year pro sprinted to victory indoors at the Millrose Games in February with a time of 6.61 seconds in the 60 event. The 2015 world bronze medallist raced at Hayward Field during last year's NCAA championships, winning the 100 and 200 double. He'll face an elite field in Eugene, fronted by world No. 1 Justin Gatlin, last year's Pre Classic champion Tyson Gay and former world record holder Asafa Powell.
Shawn Barber: The reigning world champion pole vaulter was third at Diamond League Shanghai two weeks ago, clearing 5.62 metres. Earlier this season, he won at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Japan and Drake Relays in Iowa.
Christabel Nettey: The Surrey B.C., native secured a second-place finish at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai by delivering a season-best jump of 6.75 and surpassing the Olympic standard of 6.70. Nettey set a Canadian record of 6.99 last season.
Tim Nedow: The 25-year-old was fifth in Shanghai as his throw of 20.40 was a metre off the winning throw by American Kurt Roberts. The Brockville, Ont., native had a winning throw of 20.77 at the recent Kansas Relays, well clear of the Olympic standard of 20.50.
Mo Ahmed: Finished last season by shattering a 17-year-old Canadian record in the 5,000, running a personal best 13 minutes, 10.00 seconds to beat Jeff Schiebler's time of 13:13.96, set in 1998. Ahmed, who hails from St. Catharines, Ont., set the national mark in the 3,000 indoors (7:40.11) at the Millrose Games in February.
Cam Levins: The 26-year-old opened the indoor season with a fourth-place finish in the men's 3,000 (7:52.67) at the TrackTown USA High Performance Meet in Portland. The Black Creek, B.C., runner, who ran 7:45.44 at the Millrose Games in February, is the Canadian record holder in the 10,000 and won a bronze in the event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Sheila Reid: A 2012 Olympian, she won her indoor season opener, clocking 4:18.27 seconds at the TrackTown USA High Performance meet in Oregon, where the Newmarket, Ont., native is now based. Reid is the Canadian women's indoor mile record holder with a time of 4:27.02.
Gen Lalonde: She won bronze in the 3,000 steeplechase at last year's Pan Am Games in Toronto in nine minutes 53.03 seconds, only to improve that time with a 9:38.88 effort at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, Calif., in May. That finish is only five seconds off the Canadian mark of 9:33.45, set in 2014 by Jessica Furlan.
Johnathan Cabral: One of two Canadians to compete at last week's Diamond League in Rabat, Morocco, Cabral was fifth in the 110 hurdles in 13.42 seconds, just shy of his personal best of 13.35. The 23-year-old American-Canadian hurdler was a semifinalist at last year's world championships in Beijing.
Here are some notable matchups in Eugene:
Women's long jump
Canada's Christabel Nettey will probably be in tough as world outdoor champion Tianna Bartoletta of the United States and silver medallist Shara Proctor of Great Britain are part of a field with five of the seven women owning personal bests of 7.02 metres or further. Nettey set a PB and Canadian record of 6.99 last season at Stockholm's XL Galan track and field meet.
Olympic gold medal threats Kirani James of Grenada and LaShawn Merritt of the United States will renew their rivalry at the Prefontaine Classic for a fifth time, with talk that Michael Johnson's Prefontaine record from 2000 of 43.92 seconds might fall. James, 23, edged Merritt in April at the Drake Relays (44.08 to 44.22) and boasts three of the top six times this season. The 29-year-old Merritt is in top form, having won Diamond League meets in Doha and Rabat this season, and is a four-time winner at the Prefontaine Classic.
Diamond League on CBC Sports
CBC Sports will provide live streaming coverage of all 14 Diamond League meets this season at CBCSports.ca and via the CBC Sports app for iOS and Android devices. TV coverage will be featured as part of the network's Road To The Olympic Games weekend broadcasts throughout the season.
The following is a list of upcoming Diamond League meets on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app:
- Eugene (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET)
- Rome (June 2, 2 p.m. ET)
- Birmingham (June 5, 9 a.m. ET)
- Oslo (June 9, 2 p.m. ET)
- Stockholm (June 16, 2 p.m. ET)
- Monaco (July 15, 2 p.m. ET)
- London (July 22-23, 3 p.m., 10 a.m. ET)
- Lausanne (Aug. 25, 2 p.m. ET)
- Paris (Aug. 27, 2 p.m. ET)
- Zurich (Sept. 1, 2 p.m. ET)
- Brussels (Sept. 9, 2 p.m. ET)