EUGENE, Ore. – Christian Taylor’s quest to go down as the greatest triple jumper in world history is really heating up.
The American-record holder and back-to-back Olympic champion won Saturday’s Prefontaine Classic with the world’s third-longest jump of all time, going 18.11 meters (59 feet, 5 inches). He edged out longtime rival and two-time Olympic silver medalist Will Claye, who took second with a personal-best 18.05 (59 feet, 2 ¾ inches).
Taylor led a contingent of Team USA athletes that won nine events during the two-day Diamond League meet. Taylor is currently second on the all-time triple jump list with a mark of 18.21 meters, which he achieved in 2015 in Beijing en route to his second world championship title.
British jumper Jonathan Edwards set the world record in 1995 with leap of 18.29 meters.
“When I hang up my spikes, nobody will remember number two,” said Taylor, who’ll have a chance to break Edwards’ record in the world-record holder’s home country this August at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London. “Not to belittle it, but who remembers number two? That’s what pushes me every day.”
Tori Bowie, who took home three Olympic medals from Rio last year, won the women’s 200 in 21.77 seconds Saturday, the fastest time in the world so far this season. She beat reigning Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who was third, and Olympic silver medalist Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, who finished fourth. Nine-time Olympic medalist Allyson Felix, who won the event at the 2012 Olympics, was fifth.
“I came in not putting any pressure on myself this race,” said Bowie, who won bronze in the event in Rio, behind Thompson and Schippers. “I executed my plan and it went well. I don’t look at it as a big deal, because I’m just preparing for the national championships. I tried to go out there and just run by myself.”
The USATF Outdoor Championships, part of the Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast, is June 22-25 in Sacramento, California, and determines the team that goes to London.
Ashley Spencer highlighted a 1-2-3 sweep for the American women in the 400-meter hurdles with her victory in 53.38 seconds. The bronze medalist at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Spencer shaved almost a half second off her previous best 400 hurdles time. Shamier Little (53.44 seconds) and Georganne Moline (54.09) finished second and third, respectively. Dalilah Muhammad, the reigning Olympic champion, placed fifth in 54.53.
“Shamier is a very talented athlete, and I’m just a newcomer in this event so I knew coming off the last hurdle I had to run like hell,” Spencer said. “And that’s what I did.”
In the women’s 100-meter hurdles, Jasmin Stowers held off teammates Queen Harrison and Dawn Harper-Nelson, taking first in 12.59 seconds to win her second Diamond League event of 2017. Harrison was second in 12.64 seconds and Harper-Nelson third in 12.66.
“It’s always competitive,” Stowers said about a field that also included 2016 Olympic medalists Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin. “Every girl out there today is amazing, so to win it means a lot.”
Brittney Reese took first in the long jump on Friday with a winning mark of 7.01 meters. Also notable was Tianna Bartoletta’s runner-up finish in the long jump and 19-year-old Vashti Cunningham’s third-place effort in the high jump. Cunningham went 1.95 meters (6 feet, 4 ¾ inches).
"I think I definitely could have broken my PR today, but there were some complications with the first few attempts and just keeping my endurance up,” said Cunningham, whose PR is 1.97 meters. “But overall my progression from last year’s Pre is much better than this year so I’m thankful for that."
For the American men, Ronnie Baker added a surprise victory in the 100 with a wind-aided time of 9.86 seconds. He was competing in a field that included five-time Olympic medalist Justin Gatlin and Canada’s three-time Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse.
The ageless LaShawn Merritt – he turns 31 in June – won the 400 in 44.79 seconds, the 106th time he’s broken 45 seconds in a race. U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Sam Kendricks went 5.86 meters (19 feet, 2 ¾ inches) to win the pole vault, and Oregon native and reigning Olympic gold medalist Ryan Crouser took first in the shot put with a meet-record toss of 22.43 meters (73 feet, 7 ¼ inches).