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Adidas Grand Prix To Feature Top 1500-meter Americans, June 9, 2012

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Nine athletes who have won a total of 26 World Championships medals have been added to the field for the adidas Grand Prix on June 9, organizers have announced.

Among them are Jenny Simpson, the reigning women’s 1500-meter World Champion; Matthew Centrowitz, Bernard Lagat, and Leo Manzano, the top three American men at the distance; and a pair of Jamaican athletes who posted huge wins last weekend.

Tickets for the adidas Grand Prix, in its eighth year as one of the premier track-and-field events in the world, are available at adidasgrandprix.com or by calling 1-877-849-8722. The event begins at 1 p.m. on June 9 at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island.

Simpson, 25, a 2008 Olympian in the 3000-meter steeplechase, was the surprise winner at 1500 meters in the IAAF World Championships last summer. In seventh place with 200 meters remaining, Simpson pulled to the outside and stormed to her first world title. The American Record-holder in the steeplechase, a mark she set in finishing fifth at the 2009 World Championships, Simpson will compete in New York at 800 meters.

The field for the men’s 1500 meters is led by the trio of Americans who went 1-2-3 in the 2011 Track & Field News rankings.

Centrowitz, who at 22 is a rising young American star, had a spectacular season in 2011, winning both the NCAA and U.S. titles at the distance before going on to join Simpson as an American medalist by earning bronze at the IAAF World Championships. He finished the year ranked #1 in the U.S. and #8 in the world. Lagat, 37, is a two-time Olympic medalist (2000, 2004) at 1500 meters; the 2007 World Champion at both 1500 and 5000 meters, and the owner of the American Records at 1500 meters outdoors and both 1500 meters and the mile indoors. Neither is a stranger to New York City: Lagat is the eight-time Wanamaker Mile winner at the Millrose Games and just this winter broke the American Record for 5000 meters indoors at the event, while Centrowitz won the 2012 edition of the Wanamaker.

Manzano, 27, who finished the year ranked #3 in the U.S., is a 2008 Olympian and three-time member of the U.S. team for the World Championships. Late last month, he anchored his team to a thrilling victory in the distance medley relay in the Penn Relays, outgunning the venerable Lagat.

Challenging them will be Australia’s Craig Mottram, 31, the 2005 World Championships bronze medalist at 5000 meters; and Kenya’s Augustine Choge, the 2005 World Junior Cross Country Champion and 2012 World Indoor Championships silver medalist at 3000 meters.

Coming off wins at the Jamaica International Invitational last weekend are veteran Novlene Williams-Mills in the 400 meters and young star Hansle Parchment in the 110-meter hurdles. Williams-Mills, 30, the 2007 World Championships bronze medalist who owns a half dozen 4×400-meter relay medals from the Olympics and World Championships, ran a world-leading 49.99 on Saturday to defeat American Sanya Richards-Ross. Parchment, just 21 years old, notched a personal-best 13.19 in winning the 110-meter hurdles at the event. The 2011 World University Games gold medalist, who was fifth in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, joins a deep and exciting field at the adidas Grand Prix that already includes reigning World Champion Jason Richardson, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver, and Aries Merritt, the World Indoor Champion at the 60-meter hurdles who last weekend ran a personal-best and world-leading 13.03 in winning a meet in Fayetteville, AR, after posting a wind-aided 12.99 in his heat.

In another world-class matchup, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, the 2009 World Champion at 800 meters, returns to the adidas Grand Prix after a victory here in 2010 to face the reigning World Champion and World Record-holder, David Rudisha. Mulaudzi, 30, of South Africa, is also the 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2004 World Indoor Champion, and was ranked #1 in the world in 2006.

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.

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Written by Staff Writer