N.J. star Robby Andrews, Aussie Mitchell Watt to provide young star power
NEW YORK CITY (May 22, 2012)—Seven athletes have been added to the field for the adidas Grand Prix on June 9, including the reigning 5000-meter Olympic gold medalist, a New Jersey high school star competing for the first time in the N.Y.-N.J. metro area as a professional, and a double amputee seeking to make Olympic history.
In its eighth year as one of the premier track-and-field events in the world, the adidas Grand Prix, at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island, will begin at 1 p.m. on June 9. Tickets are available at adidasgrandprix.com or by calling 1-877-849-8722.
Headlining the women’s 5000 meters will be Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia, one of the best female distance runners in history. The 2008 double Olympic gold medalist at 5000 and 10,000 meters, seven-time World Champion (track and cross-country), and World Record-holder at 5000 meters, Dibaba, 26, is on the comeback trail after missing all of last year with an injury. Her first two outings in 2012—at 2 Miles indoors on the track and 5K on the roads—have resulted in victories, but for Dibaba to get the chance to defend her Olympic 5000-meter title she is going to have to impress her nation’s selectors by putting up a fast time in New York.
Making his debut in the N.Y.-N.J. metro area as a pro will be former Manalapan (N.J.) High School star Robby Andrews—and what a debut it will be, as Andrews will face previously announced superstars David Rudisha and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, the World Record-holder and 2009 World Champion, respectively, at 800 meters. Andrews, 21, was a three-time All-American and two-time NCAA Champion at 800 meters, in 2010 indoors and 2011 outdoors. A junior at the University of Virginia, Andrews turned pro in March. He is seeking to make his first Olympic team.
Also joining the 800-meter field is 22-year-old Abubaker Kaki of Sudan, the two-time World Indoor Champion (2008, 2010) and World Junior Record-holder (1:42.69).
Returning to the adidas Grand Prix will be four-time Paralympic gold medalist Oscar Pistorious, who is seeking to become the first double amputee to compete in track and field in the Olympic Games. The South African known as the “Blade Runner” in honor of his carbon-fiber prosthetic limbs, who was recently listed among TIME magazine’s most influential people in the world for 2012, needs to run one more 400-meter race under the Olympic “A” standard of 45.25 seconds to be named to the team by his country’s federation. Last summer, the 25-year-old won an IAAF World Championships silver medal in the 4x400-meter relay, and made it to the 400-meter semifinal in the individual event.
“Last year at the adidas Grand Prix, I had a great experience on the way to my first World Championships,” Pistorius said. “This year, I know the Icahn Stadium fans will put everything they’ve got behind my quest to compete in the Olympics.”
Making their adidas Grand Prix debuts, and offering fans a three-way match-up of the reigning Olympic Champion, the #1 jumper in the world in 2011, and the current world leader will be long jumpers Irving Saladino of Panama, Mitchell Watt of Australia, and Greg Rutherford of Great Britain.
Saladino, 29, is the 2008 Olympic gold medalist and 2007 World Champion; Watt is the 2011 IAAF World Championships silver medalist who was ranked #1 in the world for 2011, and Rutherford, the 2006 European Championships silver medalist, currently owns the longest jump in the world this year, a leap of 8.35 meters/27 feet, 4¾ inches earlier this month that set a national record.
Watt, 24, unranked in 2010, not only broke the Australian national record last year with the longest jump in the world, 8.54 meters/28 feet, ¼ inch, but recorded four of the five best marks in the world. A national-champion track star in high school, Watt gave up the sport to play rugby but returned for the 2008 season and by 2009 would win a bronze medal at the 2009 World Championships, the youngest Australian ever to win a world medal in the sport. He is about to finish up a double degree in law and economics at Queensland University.
In addition to Rudisha and Mulaudzi, previously announced athletes include top hurdlers Dayron Robles, Jason Richardson, David Oliver, and Aries Merritt; middle-distance stars Bernard Lagat, Matthew Centrowitz, Leo Manzano, and Craig Mottram; and sprint sensations Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Carmelita Jeter, and Yohan Blake.
The adidas Grand Prix will begin at 1 p.m. June 9 at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. The sixth stop on the international Samsung Diamond League circuit, it is also part of the Visa Championship Series. All of the latest news, photos and additional information on the event can be found at adidasgrandprix.com, the event’s pages on Facebook at facebook.com/adidasGrandPrix and on Twitter at twitter.com/adidasGrandPrix. When tweeting, use #agpny.