East Africa

Tirunesh Dibaba is set for the Adidas Grand Prix

Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba will headline the women’s 5,000-meter at the Adidas Grand Prix on June 9 at Randall’s Island. One of the greatest distance runners in history, the 2008 defending Olympic gold medalist in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter, seven-time world champion (track and cross-country) and world record-holder at 5,000-meters, the 26-year-old Dibaba missed all of last year with an injury. Her first two outings in 2012—at two miles indoors on the track and a 5K on the road—have resulted in victories. But for Dibaba to get the chance to defend her Olympic 5,000-meter title, she is going to have to impress her nation’s selectors by putting up a fast time at the Adidas Grand Prix.

Making his debut in the New York-New Jersey metro area as a pro will be former Manalapan High School star Robby Andrews—and what a debut it will be, as Andrews will be in the lanes with superstars David Rudisha and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, the world record-holder and 2009 world champion, respectively, at 800 meters. The 21-year-old Andrews 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 and will be seeking to make his first U.S. Olympic team.

Another youngster, 22-year-old Abubaker Kaki from Sudan, is also on the prowl and will join the 800-meter field. Kaki is the two-time world indoor champion (2008, 2010) and world junior record holder.

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 at the Olympics. The South African known as the “Blade Runner,” in honor of his carbon fiber prosthetic limbs, was recently listed among TIME magazine’s most influential people in the world for 2012. He 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 a silver medal at the IAAF World Championships in the 4×400-meter relay. He also 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 matchup of the reigning Olympic champion and the No. 1 jumper in the world in 2011, will be long jumpers Irving Saladino of Panama and Mitchell Watt of Australia. Saladino, 29, is a 2008 Olympic gold medalist and 2007 world champion, while Watt is the 2011 IAAF World Championships silver medalist and was ranked No. 1 in the world for 2011. They will be joined by Chris Tomlinson of Great Britain, the 2008 World Indoor Championships silver medalist who was ranked No. 6 in the world for 2011.

The Adidas Grand Prix begins at 1 p.m. on 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. For more information, visit adidasgrandprix.com.

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