French athletics can always count on its hurdlers, pole-vaulters and throwers to showcase their talent at the very highest level. As such, the FFA, organiser of the Wanda Diamond League Meeting in Paris, is naturally eager to shine a spotlight on the representatives of these families by giving them the opportunity to express themselves on home soil within the scope of a major international competition, some two years before the Olympic Games in Paris.
Samba-Mayela heads the bill
World 60 m hurdles champion in Belgrade in early March, Cyréna Samba-Mayela (Lille Métropole Athlétisme) is top of the bill in this event in more ways than one. Indeed, the 21-year-old hurdler has been awarded the honour of gracing the official poster. The French indoor record holder, a symbol of the new generation of athletes gearing up for Paris 2024, will have the opportunity to reconnect with the capital’s public audience, having already excelled at home this winter at the Paris Indoor Meeting.
Her fellow hurdlers in the men’s competition are set to include Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (ES Montgeron), number two at the Indoor Worlds and fifth at the Tokyo Olympics, and Wilhem Belocian (Lille Métropole Athlétisme), European Indoor champion in 2021. Both athletes are familiar faces at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Paris.
The Lavillenie brothers in the pole vault
There will also be some regulars in the pole vault competition with Renaud and Valentin Lavillenie (Clermont Athlétisme Auvergne). The Charléty Stadium has long been the garden of the former, who knows how to really step up to the plate when it counts and will be keen to soar again in Paris. For his brother Valentin, third in the last Indoor Worlds and posting increasingly consistent performances, the event will be a wonderful opportunity to show off his new status.
A major first for the hammer throwers
Among the throwers set to perform in the capital, the unsinkable Mélina Robert-Michon (Lyon Athlétisme) will get the opportunity to remind us that, at 42, she remains one of the most bankable assets of French athletics. Meantime, Alexandra Tavernier (Annecy Haute-Savoie Athlétisme) and Quentin Bigot (Athlétisme Metz Métropole), will be making their career debuts at the Meeting de Paris. The hammer throwing competition, which is not part of the Wanda Diamond League schedule, has been added to the programme by the FFA as an extra event and will be making its first appearance at Charléty since the meeting’s return to this stadium in 2017. A fabulous way to enable the hammer throwers to sample the delights of a major competition on home soil.
Finally, Benjamin Robert (SA Toulouse Uc) and Gabriel Tual (Us Talence), signed up for the 800 m, will rank among France’s abundant new wave of talented middle-distance runners to hit the racetrack in Charléty. For these athletes, as is the case for all their compatriots, the international opposition promises to be top-flight and there is surely no better way for them to continue raising their game.