One of the afternoon’s stand-out moments was the voices of 14,000 spectators at the Charléty Stadium, cheering in unison as Mondo Duplantis, assured of victory and the meeting record (6.01 m, one centimetre higher than Sam Kendricks in 2019, during the last edition), had a go at a height of 6.19 m, a centimetre higher than his own world record. The Swede was unable to clear it, but he absolutely relished the opportunity some three days after finishing outside the Top 3 in Lausanne, a fate he hadn’t faced since June 2019! “It was very important for me to get back in the saddle of ‘victory’ mode straightaway. What made the difference in relation to Lausanne? It was you the public, in Paris”, he enthused over the microphone, before he put his words into action by spending a long while beside the grandstands, joining in with the clapping that began in the front row, happily giving his time to the requests for selfies and giving away his belonging to the youngsters…
Thompson-Herah beats Fraser-Pryce
Prior this high point of the meeting, two other meeting records had already tumbled this Saturday, starting with that of the women’s 100 m. Building on her performances of recent weeks, Elaine Thompson-Herah, who clocked a time of 10’’72, deprived her compatriot and rival Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of victory by two hundredths of a second. However, that didn’t stop the Jamaican from later calming things down with regards to speculation about Florence Griffith-Joyner’s world record (10’’49), which she came close to surpassing in Eugene last week (10’’54) stating that she is keen to beat it: “I know everyone thinks I’m targeting the world record but well… I’m not far off it. However, if I stay where I’m at for this year, I’d be very happy with that.”
World best performances of the year for Niyonsaba and Kigen in the 3,000
The last meeting record was secured in the women’s 3,000 m, with victory going to Francine Niyonsaba in 8’19’’08. It’s also the world best performance of the year over the distance for the Olympic number two in the 800 m in Rio. “Victory and the record mean a great deal to me. To make the switch from the 800 m to a longer distance is not easy. I’ve done a massive amount of training for this. I’ve had to make some major decisions along the way, like heading off to train in Kenya, and today I increasingly get the sense that I went about things the right way.”
Another world best performance of the year was set in Charléty this Saturday: the time of 8’07’’12 clocked by Kenyan athlete Benjamin Kigen in the 3,000 m steeplechase, was the result of the constant hounding from his compatriot Abraham Kibiwot (8’09’’35), who was right up there with him till the final few metres. “I discovered this meeting in 2019 and I promised myself that I’d return to win it one day.” He’s done it now, and in great style to boot!
Tokyo’s heroes make their presence felt
In a meeting punctuated by the presence of nearly 30 medallists from the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan’s heroes made it a point of honour to bring their A game to the Paris meeting. After missing the mark slightly in Lausanne in the middle of the week (eighth), Hansle Parchment won his first race as Olympic champion in the 110 m hurdles and secured his best time of the year in the process in 13’’03 (+0.7 m/s), which equates to one hundredth of a second faster than in the final in Tokyo.
In the women’s high jump, the Olympic remake in Paris boasted all of the Top 5 in Tokyo… but this time victory went to Nicola McDermott. The Olympic number two - who briefly set her sights even higher - finished ahead of Mariya Lasitskene on countback at 1.98 m, giving her the chance to savour a role reversal: “I’ve been second or third so often this season that it feels great to finally snatch victory. I felt a little tired, which is why I passed on some of the jumps during the competition. It’s always a risk to do that but I’m pleased to see it finish well today.”
In the 200 m, the main match between the Olympic number twos saw Kenneth Bednarek, who placed silver over the distance in Tokyo, in a face-off against Fred Kerley, second down the straight at the Olympic Games. The latter finished just ahead in the photo finish: their joint time of 19’’79 (+1.6 m/s) is a personal best for Kerley.
For her return to Paris, the solid performance posted by Allyson Felix saw her take third place (50’’47) in a 400 m won by Olympic number two Marileidy Paulino (50’’12). Femke Bol, European indoor champion, who bagged third in the hurdles race in Tokyo, finished fourth (50’’59). The main takeaway for the 21-year-old Dutch athlete: “I ran against Allyson Felix! It was on my bucket list and it’s fantastic to tick that one off.”
Securing bronze in Tokyo, Hugues Fabrice Zango was also keen to “very quickly get back on the road to victory after the Games. That’s done now.” Though the credit for the best jump of the competition goes to Yasser Mohammed Triki (17.16 m, +1.7 m/s, on his first attempt), Teddy Tamgho’s student ultimately took the win at the end of the final three (16.97 m, +1.7 m/s).
Perkovic loves everything about Paris…
Among the stars in Tokyo who got beaten today, it’s worth noting that even Valarie Allman was unable to quash Sandra Perkovic’s invincible reign on French soil: after the meetings in Montreuil and Sotteville earlier this season, the double Olympic discus champion (2012, 2016) dominated play in Paris, nailing the best attempt of the meeting (66.08 m on her second attempt) and victory in the final three with a throw of 65.68 m. “I love this meeting so much - it’s my fourth victory here - I so love France, Paris, the food, the wine, the streets… It’s my perfect afternoon!”