• Curtis Anderson

OTC Elite’s Blankenship set to defend title at Liberty Mile

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon Track Club Elite’s Ben Blankenship takes aim at a third straight victory in the Liberty Mile on the streets of downtown Pittsburgh on Friday night. Blankenship, a Rio 2016 Olympian in the 1,500 meters, will be competing for the first-place prize of $5,000 against a deep and talented field which includes 10 sub-4 minute milers.

The former University of Minnesota standout won the past two Liberty Miles in 4:05 (2017) and 4:02 (2016).

“I can’t wait to return to the Liberty Mile,” Blankenship said. “From the course to the crowd, the event management team and sponsors to my competitors, it’s always one of the highlights of my racing season. The city of Pittsburgh is a great place to run.”

While Blankenship pounds the pavement, four of his OTC Elite teammates are scheduled to compete in Diamond League meetings this weekend. Olympic silver medalist Francine Niyonsaba, who is coming off her second DL win of the season in the 800 meters – a 1:57.90 performance in Rabat, Morocco – is entered in the 800m in Monaco on Friday.

Hassan Mead will step to the starting line in the 5,000m in London on Saturday (July 21). The 2016 Rio Olympian tuned up for the race with a second-place finish in the 3,000m (7:51.41) in Barcelona.

Nijel Amos is slated for double duty this weekend.

The reigning DL champion in the 800m will compete at that distance in both Monaco on Friday and London on Sunday. The native of Botswana placed third in the 400m (45.82) in Lignano. He will be joined by Andrew Osagie in the 800m in London.

Hanna Green continues her first European tour with two upcoming races in the 800m. She’s entered in the Morton Games in Dublin on Thursday, followed by the KBC Night of Athletics in Heusden, Belgium on Saturday. The former Virginia Tech star recently clocked a personal best of 1:26.45 to earn runner-up honors in the 600m in Barcelona. Her final race of the season will be in Karlstad, Sweden on July 25.

Elsewhere, Harun Abda posted a season-best time of 1:46.50 to place third in the 800m in Cork, Ireland on Monday (July 16).