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Centrowitz, Cain spark mile fields for Millrose Games

Matthew Centrowitz of the U.S holds up his national flag as he celebrates winning second place in the men's 1500 metres final during the IAA
Matthew Centrowitz of the U.S holds up his national flag as he celebrates winning second place in the men's 1500 metres final during the IAA

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World silver medalist Matthew Centrowitz and teenage sensation Mary Cain will headline the featured Wanamaker Mile fields at the Millrose Games at The Armory on Saturday.

Centrowitz will be joined by three-time Olympian Nick Willis of New Zealand in the men's race, and triple U.S. champion Morgan Uceny will challenge Cain in the women's race in what has become the trademark event in the 107-year-old New York indoor meeting.

Cain, who recently broke her world junior indoor record for 1,000 meters, was originally announced for the 800 meters, but decided to change events.

"We felt Mary needs the experience of running in a competitive mile with a big pack before the USA Indoor Championships," said her coach, Alberto Salazar.

"The Wanamaker Mile will be the pre-eminent indoor mile race in the world this year so it will be great for Mary to continue to experience running in a large field against very good runners."

The Millrose Games is the second stop of the 2014 Indoor USATF Championship Series, which will conclude at the USA Indoor Track & Field Championship and world trials on February 22-23 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Willis also switched after initially planning to run in a special 2,000 meters race to honor Finland's Paavo Nurmi, who won gold medals at three Olympics and set a 2,000 meters world record at The Armory in 1925.

"I was scheduled to run the 2,000 but I ran a 3:53 mile in New Zealand in January," said Willis, the 1,500 meters silver medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"So I thought if I'm ever going to have a chance to run a fast time in the mile this might be my best opportunity on one of the fastest tracks in the world," Willis told reporters on Friday.

Featured in the Paavo Nurmi 2,000 meters is the all-time leader of Wanamaker Mile winners Bernard Lagat, whose eighth victory in 2010 put him one-up on the great Irish miler, Eamonn Coghlin.

Lagat has registered U.S. records over two miles and 5,000 meters in the past two Millrose Games and is targeting another U.S. best in the 2,000.

Two-time U.S. Olympian Wallace Spearmon leads the field in another seldom-run distance, the men's 300 meters.

"I love the 300 meters distance," said Spearmon, who has won world championship medals in the 200 meters and 4x100 meters relay.

Spearmon set the 300 meters indoor world best in a blistering 31.88 seconds in 2006.

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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