For a generation, the Drake Relays presented by Hy-Vee has been a go-to destination for the world’s top hurdlers and 2018 will continue that tradition, according to Blake Boldon, the Franklin P. Johnson Director of the Drake Relays.
Courtesy Drake Relays, click here! Feature photo: Omar McLeod-Olympic Gold Medalist ©Mike Byrnes 2017
Boldon unveiled the competitors selected to compete in the women’s 100-meter hurdles and men’s 110-meter hurdles. The two races will feature both world record holders, four Olympic medalists and eight total Olympians hurdling down the Blue Oval homestretch.
Omar McLeod, a three-time Drake Relays champion and the 2016 Olympic gold medalist reprises his role as a Blue Oval favorite as the two-time defending champion in the event and Drake Relays record holder. The Jamaican owns his country’s national record in the event with a personal best of 12.90 and has run faster than 13.30 27 times in his young career.
Veteran Aries Merritt, the world record holder and 2012 Olympic gold medalist will continue to provide an experienced challenge to the upstart McLeod. Merritt’s world record time of 12.80 has survived as the standard of the event for five years and he has logged an impressive 72 finishes under the 13.30 mark.
As jaw-dropping as the men’s field is, the women’s 100-meter hurdles is equally without peer with a world record holder and defending two-time Drake Relays champion plus an Olympic gold medalist returning to headline another outstanding lineup.
Kendra Harrison boasts the current world record in the event at 12.20 and is in search of a third-straight Drake Relays title, a feat that has not been accomplished in the race in a decade. Dawn Harper-Nelson, a Blue Oval staple, is also in the field as a two-time Olympic medalist including a gold in 2012. The five-time World Championship qualifier owns a personal best of 12.37. Tobi Amusan, the newly crowned Commonwealth Games champion from Nigeria, was recently added to lineup as another competitor who has run faster than 13 seconds.
Others who are no strangers to the Drake Relays are also in the talent-packed field include Kristi Castlin, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist and two-time Drake Relays champion as well as the 2015 champion, Jasmin Stowers.
Beyond those household names, the men’s field boasts equally impressive credentials including 2016 Olympic finalists in Canada’s Johnathan Cabral and the USA’s Devon Allen. The newly minted USA Indoor champion and World Indoor Championships silver medalist Jarret Eaton is equally primed for an impressive 110 meters at Drake Stadium.
The women’s field also boasts Kori Carter, a world class 400-meter hurdler and the World Champion in the event, who is trying her hand at the 100-meter hurdles and British Olympian Tiffany Ofili. Devynne Charlton, a Relays favorite and collegian at Purdue, joins the elite field for the second-straight year as one of the world’s top young talents in the sport after earning a spot in the finals of the World Indoor Championships in the 60-meter hurdles.
Serbian Olympian and national record holder Milan Ristic is slated to make his Blue Oval debut while the current USA Outdoor champion, Aleec Harris returns to the Blue Oval in search of his first Drake Relays title since 2015. Local favorite Aaron Mallett returns to Des Moines after winning the Drake Relays titles last year as a collegian at the University of Iowa and earning four All-America honors as a Hawkeye.
Both races will be contested within 15 minutes of each other inside Drake Stadium Saturday, April 28. The women’s race is slated to start at 2:37 p.m. followed shortly by the men’s race. A total of six hurdle races will be staged in a 50-minute window starting at 2 p.m. Saturday including the men’s and women’s 400-meter hurdles that features a total of 11 combined Olympians.
Tickets to enjoy those competitions inside Drake Stadium are available for both Friday, Saturday and all sessions by visiting DrakeTix.com.