• Curtis Anderson

OTC Elite eases into action at UO Twilight


EUGENE, Ore. – Five athletes from Oregon Track Club Elite eased their way back into competition in a series of “off events” at the Oregon Twilight Meet at Hayward Field last Friday.

Francine Niyonsaba, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and two-time World Indoor champion in the 800 meters, settled into starting blocks for the first time in her career in the 400m. The native of Burundi was all smiles after the race as she placed second with a time of 53.48 seconds.

“The 400 is not my distance,” said Niyonsaba, who is preparing for the 800m at the Pre Classic on May 26. “But I tried it for the first time to work on my speed. I ran and I did it, so I am very happy.”

OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said the race was a “timely reminder” of Niyonsaba’s training regimen which is designed to have her in peak condition for multiple stops on the Diamond League circuit later this summer.

“Francine is still short on the top end speed side of her training,” he said. “It’s a long season before the Diamond League final in August, so we will remain patient.”

Great Britain’s Tom Farrell has been nothing but patient over the past several months after returning to training from injury. The 2016 Olympian and 2015 World Championships finalist in the 5,000m competed for the first time in nearly a year, clocking 3:45.91 in the 1,500m.

“I was delighted to see Tom in a racing vest again,” Rowland said. “We will continue to tip-toe our way back into full training loads in order to prevent any setbacks.”

Harun Abda ran a PR of 3:45.45 in the 1,500m.

“Safe and solid,” Rowland said of Abda’s effort.

Hanna Green made her outdoor season debut in the women’s 1,500m with a time of 4:23.96, while Shea Collinsworth also got on the track for the first time this year by pacing the 800m.

Once again, Rowland cited patience as the key for all OTC Elite athletes at this stage of the season, especially Green and Collinsworth, who are adjusting to their first year out of college.

“Hanna was a little eager on the first lap which likely cost her any chance of challenging her PR,” Rowland said. “It was a good lesson in pace judgement, and I know she will be keen to return to the 800m again after this period of training.”

Green is scheduled to compete in the Pre Classic National women’s 800m on Friday, May 25 at Hayward Field.