25 June, 2015

A festive edition packed with surprises !

The 2015 edition of the MEETING AREVA, on Saturday 4 July at the Stade de France, promises to be explosive on the track. With a line-up gathering together some of the top stars from world athletics (Usain Bolt, Renaud Lavillenie, Kirani James, Aries Merritt, Asafa Powell, Mutaz Barshim, Almaz Ayana and Valerie Adams…), records will be in peril in a fair few events. In addition to Renaud Lavillenie, the presence of France’s top names, (Jimmy Vicaut, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and Kafétien Gomis…), will add a sumptuous French twist to the Paris event.

What is more, the show is set to extend well beyond the track lanes and the field zones. Indeed, true to form and in line with its various commitments, the French Athletics Federation (FFA), organiser of the MEETING AREVA, has concocted a solid programme of entertainment. And its aim is twofold: to shine the spotlight on the athletes and get the public involved in festivities.

At the very beginning of the evening, the top names at the meeting will be presented individually to the 50,000 spectators filling the Stade de France via a lap of the track in a… 2 CV. Indeed, the parade of stars has, over the years, become an unmissable part of the MEETING AREVA. It gives the competition an undeniable French touch, which is greatly appreciated by the overseas athletes.

Amidst the action, a trio of speakers will share the mike to comment on the events and get the public involved. In the grandstands, Christian Charbonnel will bring his expert vision of the athletics, his analysis and his statistics. On the ground, Marc Maury will present the events and do on-the-spot interviews with the athletes. Pierre Veillet, the host, will get the reactions from the spectators in the Stade de France’s grandstands. This mix of genres and approaches will give the meeting a sporting credibility and ensure a festive atmosphere for all.

A new feature of the French stage of the IAAF Diamond League: the ‘squad’: a troupe of dancers, acrobats and in attendance at France’s major athletics events. It will accompany the parade of stars early in the evening before doing the rounds of the track distributing T-shirts and goodies in the grandstands.

The evening of 4 July will also be marked by what will be a highly emotional, historic event: the awarding to the French 4x100m relay team of their Olympic medals from the London Games in 2012. Ranked in 4th place in the final, in the London stadium, the French relay team came very close to the podium. Nearly three years on, Jimmy Vicaut, Pierre-Alexis Pessonneaux, Christophe Lemaitre and Ronald Pognon will have another opportunity to make the top three. Indeed, following the suspension of Tyson Gay, the American relay team has been relegated and relieved of its second place. As a result, the French quartet has moved up a place. Its athletes will be awarded their medals in front of the Stade de France audience by Guy Drut, Olympic champion in the 110m hurdles in 1976 and member of the IOC, and Bernard Amsalem, president of the FFA.

Another emotional sequence: the 50th anniversary of the world record mile by Michel Jazy. The MEETING AREVA 2015 will celebrate the first half-century since this performance, a time of 3’53’’6 run on 8 June 1965 in Rennes. Today, aged 79, Michel Jazy will be present in the Stade de France. His feat, and with it his entire career, will be honoured throughout the evening.

The 2015 edition will also take on a social dimension. The operation has been christened “Tous au MEETING AREVA” (Everyone at the Meeting Areva). The French Athletics Federation has invited 10,000 youngsters to come to the Stade de France. These young boys and girls supported by the Secours Populaire (a charity organisation giving assistance to the poor), by sporting associations and by school sports departments, will come and discover the very best that athletics has to offer. Meantime, the French Athletics Federation has had the idea of teaming up with Sponsorise.me, the crowdfunding website. The principle: to make a donation via a crowdfunding platform to invite new youngsters to join in the festivities. A donation of just 5 euros can enable the purchase of a seat. Objective: to raise at least 5,000 euros, which equates to an extra 1,000 spectators for the grand festival of athletics.