Kevin Mayer has only graced the blue track in the Charléty Stadium once before. It was on 24 August 2019, the year it was renovated, which was also the last time he participated in the Parisian meeting. It was an unforgettable competition for the double Olympic silver medallist, who excelled in front of a home crowd, improving on his personal bests in the 110 m hurdles in 13’’55 (reducing that down by a further hundredth of a second in 2020) and in the shot put with 17.08 m. In fact, the latter performance remains his benchmark, eliciting a roar from him that spoke volumes about the importance of the throw.
The champion has always felt at home in the capital and rightly so. The cancellation of the meeting in 2020, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, followed by his absence from Paris in 2021 due to feeling done in after finishing the Tokyo Games with a silver, mean that he has been deprived of his favourite meeting for two years in a row. “It’s a meeting I’m particularly fond of and I can’t wait to perform on the Charléty Stadium track again, enthuses Kevin Mayer. I’ve always been successful at this competition! I’m able to transcend myself here thanks to the support of the crowd, who will me on to do my best. It’ll be a precious asset in finding my points of reference again with a month to go until the world championships in Eugene.”
The same events as in 2019
Combining several sports, the athlete from Montpellier Athlétic Méditerranée Métropole will be lining up for the 110 m hurdles, the long jump and the shot put within the context of the triathlon event. He excelled in all three events in 2019 so could this be fate? Having performed brilliantly in the shot put (15.36 m), the discus (49.30 m) and the pole vault (5.30 m) since the start of the summer season, he’ll now be able to test his mettle in two of his strongest events, whilst making the final tweaks to his long jump performance, a discipline in which he hopes he can step things up a gear.
A key figure of French athletics, he’ll be accompanied by some of the rising stars of the tricolour decathlon, including Baptiste Thiery, Téo Bastien, Makenson Gletty and Arthur Prévost. His training companion, Belgian Benjamin Hougardy, will also be part of the line-up. This wealth of athletes will get a chance to discover the excitement of a major competition on home turf first-hand with just two years until the Olympic Games in Paris. They’re sure to benefit from the considerable increase in visibility too. “I’m happy to see that the Diamond League is continuing to pay tribute to the triathlon thanks to the commitment of the French Athletics Federation (FFA), stresses Kevin Mayer, ever the fervent promoter of the decathlon event. It’s an amazing promotional tool for the combined events and having them on display in front of the general public remains one of my priorities.” Inevitably this is great news for the Paris crowd, which is already eagerly waiting to give its heroes and their ambassador a very special welcome.
Nafissatou Thiam, double Olympic champion in the high jump
At 27, Nafissatou Thiam already boasts an unrivalled track record. Double Olympic champion (2016 and 2021) and world champion (2017), the Belgian athlete has dominated the heptathlon for the past five years. This is notably thanks to the high jump competition, where her record of 2.02 m means she’s in the running for a podium position, the title even, at all the major championships. We’ll see her perform in this discipline on Saturday 18 June at the Charléty Stadium, where she’ll be up against some fearsome rivals. Indeed, she’ll be pitted against the Australian Nicola McDermott and Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh, respectively silver and bronze medallists in Tokyo. The latter even managed to snatch the top spot on the podium at the Indoor Worlds in Belgrade back in March. Clearly, a thrilling challenge awaits Nafissatou Thiam.