• Curtis Anderson

OTC Elite’s Niyonsaba seeks Pre Classic tune-up

EUGENE, Ore. – With an appearance in the 2018 Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field just two weeks away, Oregon Track Club Elite’s Francine Niyonsaba felt the need to sharpen her racing form.

Thus, the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the 800 meters has entered the 800m at an international track and field meeting in Guadeloupe, France on Saturday.

Niyonsaba, who successfully defended her World Indoor 800m title earlier this year, has only competed outdoors once this season – a runner-up finish in the 400m (53.48 seconds) at the Oregon Twilight Meet last week. It was the first 400m race of her career.

“(Francine) wanted to have a tune-up and get her rhythm back over 800m before the Pre meet,” OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said. “We’re looking for a sub-two-minute performance.”

Niyonsaba, a native of Burundi, has competed in the Pre Classic on two prior occasions. She made a big splash in her 2013 debut as a 20-year-old by setting the meet record with a winning time of 1 minute, 56.72 seconds. Last season, Niyonsaba placed third behind South Africa’s Caster Semenya, the reigning Olympic champion, and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui, the bronze medalist in the Rio Olympics.

Elsewhere, OTC Elite’s Andrew Osagie is a late entry into the 800m at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai on Saturday. The native of Great Britain last competed in the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.

“With the travel and long flight, these are not the most conducive conditions to racing,” Rowland said. “But Andrew is looking forward to getting involved in a high-level competition again.”