An inform Ryan Gregson (Vic) will be right in the mix of a world-class mile field this weekend when he lines up against the reigning Olympic 1500m champion and a long list of elite runners in Eugene (USA).
The prestigious Bowerman Mile race at the Eugene Diamond League meeting in Oregon is always littered with stars and this start list is one of the best assembled with four men who have broken 3:50 in their careers.
Read our preview on the nine Australians running in Eugene here.
It’s likely to be a hot pace in Eugene on Sunday morning AEST with the meet record of 3:47.32 well within the reach of multiple starters.
Matthew Centrowitz (USA), the Rio Olympic champion is expected to be amongst the leaders after his 3:33.41 performance to win a race in Los Angeles two weeks ago.
Centrowitz, the four-time US champion, is yet to win the famous race on what was his home track in college with a second-place finish in 2015 his best run at the meeting named in the honour of the late Steve Prefontaine.
But it won’t be easy, ‘Centro’ will be challenged by the man who has run the third fastest 1500m all-time, and three-time world champion Asbel Kiprop (KEN).
Last year the 2008 Olympic 1500m champion and winner of the last three world championship titles, Kiprop, won in a modest time of 3:51.54 ahead of Abdalaati Iguider (MAR).
Amazingly, Kiprop will be just the third fastest over a mile on the start line with the meet and track records belonging to fourth-placegetter in the Rio Olympic 1500m Ayanleh Souleiman (DJI).
But for the Australian, who has run five of his top seven times in the past calendar year, will approach the meet knowing he has strong form on this track.
Six years ago, Gregson won the international mile at this meeting for a second time in a row with a 3:53.86 performance ahead of David Torrence, Evan Jager and Mo Aman – less than twelve months after setting the 1500m national record in Monaco.
After running 3:31.06 in 2010 to claim the national record, Gregson has competed at two Olympics and two world championships amidst a string of absences due to injury.
At last year’s Rio Olympics, Gregson made the 1500m final, the first time in 40 years (ten Games) that an Australian had made the final of that event and Gregson seems to have been able to build on that momentum into this season with quality performances including a 3:34.56 at the Doha Diamond League earlier this month.
"Doha will really help me for Pre. I was able to run 3:34, but I know Pre will be much faster than Doha because there's more hype,” Gregson said.
“The 3:34 put some speed in my legs so hopefully now I can go even faster at Pre.
“I definitely go into races more confident than I did when I was younger.
“I think if you do something once, it's easier the second time, then easier again the third.
“That's why I enjoy racing a lot because you build your momentum with each race and if you're going well, that momentum is hard to stop.”
Gregson also ran a mile indoors earlier this season in Ireland stopping the clock first at 3:56.49 and a solid 1500m indoors finishing second in Birmingham behind American miler Ben Blankenship, who is also in the field this weekend.
Gregson, a three-time national 1500m champion, is in a position to improve on his personal best over the mile of 3:52.24 he clocked in London nearly seven years ago at the Crystal Palace Grand Prix meeting.
“Guys like Kiprop and Centrowitz have Olympic gold medals for a reason, they've done all there is to do, but I know that over the next four years they'll be handing out sets of medals all over again and it's my time to step up and be counted,” Gregson added.
“Physically I'm in the best shape I've been in, and I think due to the mistakes I've made in the past and the hard lessons I've learned I'm in a good position to move forward and be a contender."
The national mile record of 3:48.98 set in Oslo by Craig Mottram in 2005 may be a bit out of Gregson’s reach right now but he could become just the third Australian to break the 3:50 barrier, which only 58 men have done for the mile, ever.
The Men's Bowerman Mile will be run at 7:52am AEST Sunday 28 May 2017 live on Eurosport Australia.