Australian Olli Hoare raring to go in stacked mile race

John Salvado |

Olli Hoare has his eyes on the Olympic qualifier in this weekend’s Bowerman Mile.
Olli Hoare has his eyes on the Olympic qualifier in this weekend’s Bowerman Mile.

Commonwealth champion Olli Hoare is not resorting to hyperbole when he says the field for the Bowerman Mile in Oregon will be more stacked than the Paris Olympics 1500m final.

He’s just telling it straight.

Unlike the sprinters, who often duck each other outside the major championships, the best middle-distance runners on the planet are happy to go head-to-head.

Reigning Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen is the clear world No.1, but  the great Norwegian has lost the past two 1500m world titles to British duo Jake Wightman and Josh Kerr, leading to a spicy war of words with the latter.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen
Jakob Ingebrigtsen has saved some of his very best wins for the Bowerman Mile. (AP PHOTO)

The mile field at the Prefontaine Classic in Oregon on Saturday (Sunday AEST) also includes star Americans Yared Nuguse, Cole Hocker and 2016 Olympic champ Matthew Centrowitz, flying Kenyans Abel Kipsang and Reynold Cheruiyot, Hoare and rising Australian teen star Cameron Myers.

“It’s probably going to be more stacked than the Olympic final because with luck and having to get through the rounds, you usually don’t get that much depth in a global final,” Hoare told AAP.

“It’s an amazing field and it’s really cool to be a part of it.

“I often get asked about how you compete in such stacked races against people who have such ridiculous credentials, people who if you had to end your career yesterday you’d be very proud to say you raced against.

“I just try to focus in on the purity of racing, just being able to go out there and race, regardless of who is next to me, who’s in front of me or behind me.”

It’s a mindset that served Hoare well two years ago in Birmingham, where he joined the legendary Herb Elliott as the only Australian men to win  Commonwealth 1500m gold.

 After missing last year’s world championships with a groin injury, Hoare made an impressive return to competition when he finished a close second behind Adam Spencer in the 1500m at the Australian championships last month in Adelaide.

He and coach Dathan Ritzenhein then pencilled in a further five high-quality races in the lead-up to the Paris Olympics in early August.

Hoare was second in the mile at the Penn Relays in late April, then downed Cheruiyot and 2016 Olympic champ Centrowitz to win the 1500m at last weekend’s LA grand prix.

The field in LA was a good one, but those at the Bowerman Mile this weekend and upcoming Diamond Leagues in Oslo and Monaco will be something else altogether.

“The reason why the 1500 is so loved by track and field fans in general is we don’t back away from competing,” Hoare said.

“If you win, you reap the spoils of the race, and if you don’t, then you go back and prepare better.”

Australian trio Spencer, Myers and Stewart McSweyn have already bettered the Olympic 1500m qualifying standard, and Hoare will join them this weekend if he dips under three minutes 50.40 seconds for the mile.

Only three Australians can contest the event in Paris, with Jesse Hunt also right in the frame.

The other Australians competing in the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League meet are Jessica Hull, Abbey Caldwell and Linden Hall in the women’s 1500m, and national record-holder Catriona Bisset in the 800m.

Hull and Caldwell have already locked in their spots for the Paris Olympics.