Asher-Smith takes on the Americans
World champion in 2019 and bronze medallist last year in Eugene, Dina Asher-Smith boasts the finest track record of the athletes signed up for the half lap of the track. The Briton is set to do battle with an impressive American contingent comprising five athletes led by Gabrielle Thomas, the 4th fastest 200 m runner in history in 21’’61. Abby Steiner, who excelled in NCAA last year, and Jenna Prandini are also in with a chance of victory. Highly experienced and in great shape, Marie-Josée Ta Lou from the Ivory Coast has a chance to show that she’s just as talented over 200 m as she is down the straight. Gemima Joseph from French Guiana will be France’s only representative and has her sights on a sub-23’’ time.
A golden trio led by McLaughlin-Levrone
Doubtless all eyes will be on this 2023 edition. Great expectations surround the presence of American Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone. The world record holder in the 400 m hurdles (50’’68) will likely explode her personal best (50’’17) in the hurdle-free lap of the track, which dates back to 2018. Certain specialists, including her trainer Bob Kersee, even believe she’s capable of hunting down Marita Koch’s legendary world record (47’’60) in the near future. However, reducing McLaughlin-Levrone’s 400 m down to a mere race against the clock would be a mistake. Indeed, the Olympic and world champion will be up against some stiff opposition in Dominican Marileidy Paulino, who ran 48’’98 in late May in Los Angeles, and Bahraini Salwa Eid Naser, the third fastest runner of all time (48’’14), who clocked 49’’78 last Tuesday in Huelva (Spain). A race curiosity: the presence of American Anna Hall, truly gifted in the combined events, who has just become the fifth best performer in the world of all time in the heptathlon after scoring 6,988 points in Götzis (Austria).
Hodgkinson, part of the new guard
Aged just 21, the Briton already has a packed trophy cabinet. European champion, world number two and Olympic number two in the 800 m, Keely posted a personal best in Eugene last year to snatch second place in 1’55’’88. For her summer debut, she’ll have to defeat the experienced American Ajee Wilson (29), who holds a record time of 1’55’’61. Meantime, French athletes Agnès Raharolahy and Léna Kandissounon will attempt to hang onto the peloton for as long as possible and hopefully set new personal bests.
Duel of world record holders
Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey vs Kenyan Faith Kipyegon, a tempting duel for middle-distance fans. Since 2020, the former has held the world record for the 5,000 m in 14’06’’62, as well as the 10,000 m and the half-marathon. The latter, already considered by many as the best mile runner in history, with her two Olympic titles and her two world crowns, has just run the best ever time in the world, covering 1,500 m in 3’49’11. Her personal best in the 5,000 m - 14’31’’95 – is unlikely to survive Friday night. Refereeing this match will be Gidey’s compatriot, Ejgayehu Taye, the fifth fastest runner of all time in the 5,000 m with 14’12’’98 in Eugene.
A wide open competition
After a highly symbolic Ukrainian hat-trick in this event last year at Charléty, the cards have been reshuffled for this 2023 edition. Getting embroiled in predicting the outcome would be very risky as the competitors are very evenly matched this season. American Vashti Cunningham and Australian Nicola Olyslagers should nevertheless be able to jockey for the top spot with their 1.98 m this summer. Enjoying renewed success in this event, France can count on Nawal Meniker and Solène Gicquel. Also worth noting: the participation of a specialist in the combined events, Anna Hall, with a record of 1.92 m.
Moon aiming for the moon
The top jumper in the world this year with 4.81 m, a performance posted on 5 May at the Wanda Diamond League Meeting in Doha, Katie Moon is the bookies’ favourite in Paris’ jumping pit. However, compatriot Sandi Morris (4.71 m) and above all Slovenian Tina Šutej (4.76 m) are lying in ambush. The French trio, comprising Margot Chevrier, Ninon Chapelle and Marie-Julie Bonnin, will be eager to cause a surprise in a sport which is yet to fully take off this summer.
The first Wanda Diamond League event on the programme for this 2023 edition, the women’s shot put is likely to come down to a duel between Americans Maggie Ewen and Chase Ealey, the only two competitors to have cleared more than 20 metres this summer. The former has made giant steps forward this year, improving on her personal best by more than 50 centimetres (20.45 m compared with 19.79 m). Meanwhile, Ealey is the reigning world champion and has thrown 20.06 m in 2023. Jamaican Danniel Thomas-Dodd (19.77 m) is hoping to spoil the party.
Allman gunning for her sixth straight win
Undefeated in her first five competitions this season, barring catastrophe, Valarie Allman appears to be untouchable. With a throw of 70.25 m on 7 April in San Diego (California), the American showed she had lost none of her clairvoyance. Olympic champion in 2021 but ‘only’ securing bronze on home soil at last year’s Worlds in Eugene, the former dancer is keen for revenge in Budapest. Taking victory in Paris, as she did in 2022, would really give her a confidence boost. However, the unsinkable Croatian Sandra Perkovic, who will make her season debut in the French capital, will not be prepared to accept that. Among the French contingent, the eternal Mélina Robert-Michon is back at the peak of fitness (65.49 m in Montreuil), whilst the talented Amanda Ngandu-Ntumba will be looking to gain more experience on the circuit.
The sensation that is Borge
There are countless pretenders to victory in this event. Kelsey-Lee Barber should logically top the bill with her world champion title in Eugene. However, the Australian is yet to tap into the sensations she enjoyed in 2022 and for now her best throw stands at 61.95 m, which is a far cry from her personal best (67.10 m). Therefore, Norwegian Sigrid Borge leads the global rankings as she lines up in Paris. Coached by Olympic legend Andreas Thorkildsen, the 27-year-old athlete, created a massive stir on 20 May with a throw in Halle (Germany) of 66.50 m, having spent the past three seasons on a personal best of less than 56 m. Equally, we must not forget Japanese athlete Haruka Kitaguchi, bronze in Eugene, who’s thrown 64.50 m this year.
Lyles-Jacobs, a mouth-watering duel
The start line for the 100 m will smell of gunpowder this Friday at Charléty. Two of the biggest showmen on the world stage will be coming together for the ultimate clash. The Olympic champion in the speciality, Italian Marcell Jacobs, will face the American Noah Lyles, double world 200 m champion. Delayed in his preparation by back pain, Jacobs is making his grand comeback in Paris, though his level of fitness hangs in the balance. In contrast, Lyles is already certain of his strength, with a thundering start to the season (9’’80 in the 100 m with +4.4 of wind and 19’’67 in the 200 m), making him the logical race favourite. However, Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala will be worth watching too, with a world best performance this season of 9’’84, which might well put paid to any disagreement. France’s best performer of the summer with 10’’06, Mouhamadou Fall will also be on the track.
110 m hurdles
A foretaste of the Worlds
The density of the line-up in this event is truly exceptional. Of the sixteen competitors, four ran 13’’ or less in 2022. Among them, the second and third best hurdlers of all time, Americans Grant Holloway (12’’81), double reigning world champion and the fastest performer in the world this year (13’’01), and Devon Allen (12’’84). If we add to that fellow compatriots and national champions, Daniel Roberts and Freddie Crittenden, who both hold a record of 13’’00, the finale of this 2023 edition could well resemble the US championships. That is unless France’s high hurdlers can join the fray, led by a hale and hearty Wilhem Belocian (13’’23 this summer), a smoking hot Just Kwaou-Mathey (13’’28) and a Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who is yet to have his final say. Also worth watching: Swiss athlete Jason Joseph (13’’20), the European indoor champion over the past winter.
Men’s 400 m hurdles
Suspense reigns in the lap of the track with hurdles, where every one of the competitors is in with a shot at victory. However, there is a standout favourite in the person of American CJ Allen, who has passed a milestone this year by running a sub-48’’-time twice over. His personal best: 47’’91, posted on 27 May in Los Angeles. Frenchman Wilfried Happio has a golden opportunity to nail a prestigious victory in front of a home crowd too. Fourth at the Worlds in Eugene (47’’41), for now he’s a little off the mark (49’’12) but is sure to be highly charged competing at home, like compatriot Ludvy Vaillant, who will be competing in his first low hurdles race of the season. The other key players to watch: Bahraini Abderrahman Samba, who will be keen to match his personal best (46’’98) attained in Paris in 2018, as well as Kyron McMaster from the British Virgin Islands and American Trevor Bassitt.
Men’s 800 m
The podium in Eugene hits the track
The boss of the world 800 m will indeed be competing at the Meeting de Paris. Reigning world and Olympic champion, Kenyan Emmanuel Korir, the sixth best performer in history in 1’42’’05, is the only entry to boast a sub-1’43’’00 record. Respectively the silver and bronze medallist at the Worlds in Eugene, Algerian Djamel Sedjati and Canadian Marco Arop will also be defending their status. However, the French also hold some trump cards, starting with Benjamin Robert, last year’s winner after a spectacular final that culminated in victory (1’43’’75). Mile runner Azeddine Habz, who has made giant leaps forward over recent months, and the promising Yanis Meziane, also have the opportunity to plump up their personal bests.
3000 m steeplechase
Girma to take on the world record
Lamecha Girma will likely get off to a crazy start on Friday evening. Indeed, the 22-year-old Ethiopian runner will try to break the world record, held since 2004 by the Qatari Saif Saaeed Shaheen in 7’53’’63. The world indoor record holder in the 3,000 m (7’23’’81) is the only competitor to hold a sub-eight-minute record in 7’58’’68. He should have free rein in the absence of Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali, winner at the Wanda Diamond League Meeting in Rabat in 7’56’’68 before hunting down the gold ahead of him at the last Olympic Games and the Worlds. Kenyan Abraham Kibiwot, Spaniard Fernando Carro and Ethiopian Hailemariyam Amare, who all have a benchmark of around 8’05’’, will try to hang on in there for as long as possible. Of note is the presence of Frenchman Djilali Bedrani, who is getting close to his best form again after a complicated season in 2022.
2 miles (outside the DL)
Ingebrigtsen to erase Komen’s time
Jakob Ingebrigtsen is coming to Paris with just one thing on his mind: to secure the best performance in the world of all time over 2 miles. The distance has seldom been run over the past thirty years, but scanning the past record times makes your head spin. Right at the top of the leader board is Daniel Komen. Setting a time of 7’58’’61 in July 1997 in Hechtel (Belgium), the Kenyan is the only person to have covered 3,218 m in under eight minutes. Such is the scale of the challenge that the Norwegian has set himself. Australian Stewart McSweyn will try to keep pace with the world middle-distance expert for as long as he can, whilst French youngsters Etienne Daguinos and Benoît Campion will also be in the mix.
Youngsters in power
At 25 years of age, Greek athlete Miltiadis Tentoglou is the oldest of the four top jumpers in the line-up. Evidence of a takeover by the new generation. Olympic and European champion and reigning world number two in the long jump, ‘Bounce Man’ landed an 8.60 m jump in Athens in 2021. Third at the Worlds in Eugene, the smooth Swiss athlete Simon Ehammer (8.45 m in 2022) will also be entitled to his say, as will Cuban Maykel Massó (8.39 m record) and Indian Murali Sreeshankar (8.36 m). Meantime, France’s new wave will be represented by Jules Pommery, bronze medallist at the European Championships 2022, and Erwan Konate, double world U20 champion.
Mixed hammer (outside DL)
Throwers make their Parisian comeback
For the second consecutive year, the mixed hammer competition is on offer at the Meeting de Paris thanks to a cage specially installed for the occasion. In the women’s contingent, American Brooke Andersen, reigning world champion, who has thrown in excess of 80 metres this year (80.17 m) for the first time, is the star attraction in a start list that also contains French athletes Alexandra Tavernier and Rose Loga. Meantime, American Rudy Winkler (82.71 m record) and Hungarian Bence Halász, reigning European number two with a throw of 80.92 m, will be the competition’s strongmen. From Clermont-Ferrand in central France, Yann Chaussinand is constantly raising his game and will try to ace in the men’s competition.
Mayer on home soil
Kevin Mayer is at home in the Charléty Stadium. The reigning world decathlon champion will take part in Friday’s triathlon, which features a shot put, a long jump and a 110 m hurdles competition. Transcended before a home crowd, the athlete from Montpellier has not forgotten that this is where he bagged a new shot put record of 17.08 m in 2019. He’ll really be hoping he can dish up more of the same against some of the French elite. Among them, Makenson Gletty, who racked up the best score of his career in late May during a decathlon in Götzis (Austria) with a total of 8,211 points.