• Curtis Anderson

OTC Elite ready for summer campaign of racing

EUGENE, Ore. – The summer season of racing is beginning to heat up for several members of Oregon Track Club Elite.

Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and Botswana’s Nijel Amos are focused on a return to the Diamond League circuit overseas, while Great Britain’s Andrew Osagie is seeking a spot on the United Kingdom team that will compete in the European Championships.

Closer to home, Ben Blankenship, Hassan Mead, Hanna Green and Harun Abda are all entered in the USATF Outdoor Championships, June 21-24, at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.

Osagie is coming off a fourth-place finish in the 800 meters at the FBK Games in Hengelo, Netherlands. In that race, he posted his fastest time in five years at 1 minute, 45.09 seconds. He also placed seventh in the rarely contested 1,000m with a personal best of 2:17.18 at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm on June 10.

“That was a nice over-distance race for Andrew,” OTC Elite coach Mark Rowland said. “Now it’s time to prepare for the UK Trials in preparation for the European Championships.”

Osagie, a 2012 Olympian, has one final 800m tune-up set for Marseille, France on June 16. The British Athletics Championships will be held June 30-July 1 in Birmingham. If Osagie is selected for the UK team, he will compete in the European Championships, Aug. 7-12, in Berlin.

Niyonsaba, the reigning two-time World Indoor champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is entered in the 800m in Montreal, France on June 19. She is targeting Diamond League meets in Paris on June 30 and Monaco on July 20. She placed second in the 800m at the Diamond League competition in Oslo on June 7. Only two athletes - Caster Semenya (1:55.92) and Ajee Wilson (1:56.86) – have run faster than her season-best of 1:56.88 this year.

“She was happy with her second place in Oslo,” Rowland said. “She’s excited for the rest of the season.”

Amos, the Pre Classic 800m runner-up this year, currently has four races on his competition calendar. He is entered in the 800m in Budapest on July 2, and the 400m Lignano on July 11. Amos returns to the Diamond League circuit in London on July 22 and Birmingham on Aug. 18. His season-best of 1:44.65 stands ninth in the world this year.

The OTC Elite contingent expected to compete in Des Moines this month include Blankenship (1,500), Mead (1,500/5,000), Abda (800m) and Green (800m). Blankenship, who placed 11th in the Pre Classic Bowerman Mile despite a foot injury, is training well and eyeing multiple races in Europe later in the summer. Mead also will head to Europe after the U.S. championships. He is preparing for the 5,000m at the Diamond League meeting in London on July 21.

Abda recently defended his 800m title in the Cayman Islands (1:48.68). He placed fifth at the Adrian Martinez Classic in Boston on June 7 (1:47.69) despite getting clipped with 200m to go.

Green, who had to withdraw from the Pre Classic National women’s 800m with an injury, will use the U.S. meet as a stepping stone to her first taste of European racing in July.