22 August, 2019

The must-see highlights

The MEETING de PARIS is fast approaching and there are a plethora of top-flight duels lined up between the world’s best athletes. On Saturday 24 August, spectators will have before them the cream of athletics, just weeks away from the start of the world championships. We get the low-down on the upcoming clashes.

MEN'S SHOT PUT

The line-up has doubtless never been as dense or refined as it is this season, with some 7 throwers who have exceeded the 22m barrier. The good news for the Parisian audience is that 5 of them are performing at the MEETING de PARIS 2019: Brazilian Darlan Romani (22.61m on 30 June in Palo Alto); Pole Michał Haratyk (22.32m on 3 August at Cetniewo); American Joe Kovacs, world champion in 2015 (22.31m on 26 July in Des Moines); New Zealander Tomas Walsh, world champion in 2017 (22.27m on 20 June in Ostrava); and Luxembourger Bob Bertemes, who has improved on his personal best this year by 1.22m (22.22m). Darlan Romani is the least well known of the bunch, but his progress speaks volume about his potential: 21.82m in 2017, 22m last year, 22.61m this season. This first-class opposition might well enable Frédéric Dagée, four-time champion of France, to secure the level of performance required for the Worlds in Doha (20.80m).

WOMEN’S TRIPLE JUMP

Make no mistake: with 5 of the athletes ranked in the top 8 this season, the competition at the MEETING de PARIS 2019 will be reminiscent of a world final. Furthermore, as is often the case in the discipline, it will have a strong American emphasis. Yulimar Rojas, Venezuela’s reigning world champion (silver medallist at the Rio Games 2016), is leading the world ranking thanks to a jump of 15.11m, her personal best, set on 9 August at the Pan American Games in Lima. She could take things to another level at the Charléty Stadium. The rest of the line-up is proving to be equally stellar, with the presence of Cuban Liadagmis Povea, just 23 years of age, credited with 14.77m this season (personal best), Jamaican Shanieka Ricketts, 14.77m this season (personal best) and American Keturah Orji, four-time US champion (14.66m this season). This competition will be an opportunity for the French athlete Yanis David, this season’s NCAA long jump champion, recently back from injury, to vie with the world’s elite before the world championships in Doha and, who knows, maybe set a new personal best (14.35m this season).

MEN’S POLE VAULT

A high-altitude duel between the American Sam Kendricks and Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie. On paper, the former has the edge after nailing the 2nd highest pole vault in the history of the men’s competition (behind Sergey Bubka), on 27 July in Des Moines, thanks to a jump of 6.06m at the American championships. He still has the security of his victory at Charléty last year. However, Renaud Lavillenie (5.85m this season) has really made the MEETING de PARIS his own over many years, amassing six Diamond League successes so far. Another of the competition’s star attractions is the young American Christopher Nilsen, 21, NCAA champion in the States in 2018 and 2019. By clearing 5.95m on 5 June in Austin, he’s improved on his personal best by 9 centimetres. Meantime, Frenchmen Valentin Lavillenie and Alioune Sene are looking to secure a ticket for Doha.

MEN’S TRIATHLON

Reigning world champion, Frenchman Kevin Mayer is yet to line up for a full decathlon this season, opting instead to prepare for the Worlds in Doha by posting several performances in the individual events. The triathlon competition at the MEETING de PARIS (shot put, long jump and 110m hurdles), is very much in keeping with this approach. He’s racked up some top performances, most notable of which is a new personal best in the hurdles in 13’’60 (13’’49 conditions were too windy during the French Elite championships). One of his sturdiest contenders appears to be German athlete Kai Kazmirek. Securing a bronze medal in 2017, this season he won the decathlon in Ratingen with 8,444 points.

WOMEN’S DISCUS

The world’s elite in the discipline have set a date for the Charléty Stadium. The top seven throwers in the world this season are present: Cubans Yaimé Perez and Denia Caballero, American Valarie Allman, German Claudine Vita, Brazilian Andressa De Morais and Chinese athlete Bin Feng. Added to these will be Croatian Sandra Perkovic, double Olympic (2012 and 2016) and world champion (2013 and 2017), a familiar face at the Parisian meeting, where she has amassed a string of victories. After a gentle start to the season (62.41m on 16 July in Sotteville), the Olympic No.2 Mélina Robert-Michon, who’s just secured her eighteenth French champion title, is keen to take advantage of the competition to move back up the global hierarchy before taking off for Doha.

WOMEN’S POLE VAULT

Another global final ahead of time. No fewer than 6 athletes have cleared 4.80m since the start of the outdoor season. They are all present at the MEETING de PARIS 2019. Headlining are the last two Olympic champions: American Jennifer Suhr (London 2012), at the top of the global leader board thanks to a jump of 4.91m very early in the year (30 March in Austin) and Greek athlete Katerina Stefanidi (Rio 2016), who jumped 4.83m on 28 July in Petra. Worth keeping a close eye on are the two other Americans in the competition: Sandi Morris, Olympic silver medallist and world No.2 (4.85m this season), and Katie Nageotte, victorious in Diamond League in Lausanne (4.82m, personal best). Also signed up is reigning French champion Ninon Guillon-Romarin, who will make the most of the competition and the home crowd to try to improve on her season’s best (4.60m this season).

MEN’S 400M HURDLES

The 400m hurdles has never been an exact science, however the very presence of Karsten Warholm on the start line makes him the firm favourite in the Parisian race. This year, the Norwegian has had the best start to the season in his career. He’s beaten Stéphane Diagana’s European record (47’’37), taking the win in Oslo on 13 June in 47’’33, before reducing it down to 47’’12, the best time in the world, on 20 July in London in the Diamond League. Reigning world champion Karsten Warholm would also be wise to keep an eye on the Turk Yasmani Copello, runner-up in London (48’’93) and bronze medallist at the Rio Games 2016. And he should watch out for the American TJ Holmes, No.2 in the States in 48’’59. Two representatives make up the French contingent. Wilfried Happio will be looking to run a sub-49’’ time and thus confirm his potential after securing a European Espoir champion title (49’’03) for his first race with the seniors. Ludvy Vaillant, rapidly returning to form, will be keen to improve on his season’s best (48’’98).

MEN’S HIGH JUMP

With a little more than a month to go till the Worlds in Doha kick off, it’s hard to confirm the hierarchy in the men’s high jump. The competition at the MEETING de PARIS 2019 is an illustration of this with a very dense line-up. World number one this season (2.33m), the Russian athlete Ilya Ivanyuk, performing under a neutral flag, boasts an excellent service record this year. However, he won’t be the only serious contender for victory. Ukrainian Andriy Protsenko (2.28m this season), European No.2 in 2014, can pride himself on a personal best of 2.40m. Meantime, Canadian Michael Mason (2.31m this season) has come close to his personal best this year (2.33m in 2015).

MEN’S 800M

Has Pierre-Ambroise Bosse’s time come? The public at the Charléty Stadium very much hopes so. Guaranteed an entry ticket to the Worlds in Doha thanks to his world title in 2017, the Frenchman is seeking to improve on his best time (1’45’’43 on 12 July in Monaco). The presence in the race of Kenyan Michael Saruni (1’43’’70 this season), Canadian Brandon McBride (1’43’’83), Qatari Abubaker Haydar Abdalla (1’44’’33) and American Clayton Murphy (1’44’’47) indicates a quick race.

WOMEN’S 100M

With three athletes boasting sub-11-second times this year, the women’s 100m at the MEETING de PARIS may well flare up. With a top time of 10’’73 (on 21 June in Kingston), plus two others under 10’’90, Jamaican Elaine Thompson stands out as the best of the bunch. She won the event at the Charléty Stadium in 2017. However, the athlete from the Ivory Coast Marie Josée Ta Lou always seems to perform at her best in Paris: 2nd in the 100m in 2017, 3rd last year in the 200m. She ran 10’’93 this year in Lausanne. However, the race won’t come down to a mere duel. Dutch athlete Dafne Schippers (11’’04 in Lausanne) and American Teahna Daniels, 22, champion of the United States this season (11’’00 on 8 June in Austin), are not accustomed to making do with a bit part. French athletes Carolle Zahi will try to improve her season best (11’’20) and Orlann Ombissa-Dzangue (11’’24), will be aiming to earn her ticket for Doha (11’’10).

MEN’S TRIPLE JUMP

An American affair. Lining up for the competition will be the three best performers of the season, all from the United States: Will Claye (18.14m in 2019), Christian Taylor (17.82m) and Omar Craddock (17.68m). The first of the trio seems to be the most consistent this season, with 4 jumps in excess of 17.65m. However, Christian Taylor, the double Olympic champion (2012 and 2016), and triple world champion (2011, 2015 and 2017), can still savour his victory in Paris (17.29m in 2017). The meeting record could well be under threat… Also worth following is the Burkinabe athlete Hugues Fabrice Zango who’s on a roll this season (17.50m, personal best). Among the French contingent will be four athletes after a 17m jump in a bid to earn selection for the world championships: Benjamin Compaoré (French champion 2019 with 16.94m), Jean-Marc Pontvianne (16.95m), Harold Correa (16.82m) and Yoann Rapinier (16.69m).

MEN’S 1,500M

One of the widest open and most exciting races of the evening. At the start are two of the three medallists over the distance at the Rio Games in 2016, Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi (silver) and New Zealander Nick Willis (bronze); plus the two Ingebrigtsen brothers, Jakob and Filip, respectively credited this year with 3’30’’16 and 3’30’’82. On top of these are three more competitors of calibre, Ugandan Ronald Musagala (3’30’’58 on 12 July in Monaco, personal best), Djiboutian Ayanleh Souleiman (3’30’’79 on 5 July in Lausanne), a familiar face from the MEETING de PARIS and winner over the distance in 2013, as well as the young Ethiopian Samuel Tefera, 19, who’s posted a time of 3’31’’39 this year. Progressing well in 2019 (3’35’’98 on 16 June in Rabat, 3’34’’23 on 12 July in Monaco), young Frenchman Alexis Miellet, 24, has a golden opportunity to set his benchmark still higher.

WOMEN’S 400M

The lap of the track is shaping up to be an American monopoly. Taking centre stage will be Shakima Wimbley, the reigning US champion, Kendall Ellis, runner-up at the US championships in Des Moines, as well as Phyllis Francis, crowned world champion two year ago. French athletes Déborah Sananes and Amandine Brossier intend to use the opposition to improve on their personal best times for this year (respectively 51’’55 and 51’’77).

MEN’S 200M

The figures speak volumes about the standard of the line-up: six of the runners competing at the MEETING de PARIS have run under 20 seconds this season for this distance. However, one of them is clearly a cut above the rest. At just 22 years of age, American Noah Lyles has become the 4th fastest man in history in this discipline, thanks to a time of 19’’50 on 5 July in Lausanne. He’s announced as the firm favourite at the Charléty Stadium, but the other entries also have solid track records. Not widely recognised last year, Nigerian Divine Oduduru is no longer in the shadows since his victory at the meeting in Austin, on 7 June, in 19’’73. Three other runners have set a personal best for the distance this season: Ecuadorian Alex Quinonez (19’’87 on 5 July in Lausanne), American Cravon Gillespie (19’’93 on 7 June in Austin) and Canadian Aaron Brown (19’’95 on 5 July in Lausanne). Frenchman Christophe Lemaitre, one of the darlings of the audience at the Charléty Stadium, who posted a time of 20’’46 on 16 July in Sotteville, is still on a quest to achieve the level of performance required (20’’35) for the Worlds in Doha.

WOMEN’S 800M

One of the most open races of the night. Jamaican Natoya Goule (2nd in Monaco in 1’57’’90), American Hanna Green (number two in the States in 1’58’’19), as well as Ethiopian Habitam Alemu (1’56’’71 last year in Monaco), hold all the cards to pocket the win. It’s the perfect race for French athlete Rénelle Lamote, double silver medallist at the European championships, who is still in pursuit of the minimum requirement (2’00’’20) to compete at the Worlds in Doha. After a disrupted start to the season, she’s close to bringing her A game, as is evidenced by her victory in the European Team Championships in Bydgoszcz.

MEN’S 3,000M STEEPLECHASE

A golden duel. On the cards is a face-off between the reigning Olympic and world champion, Kenyan Conseslus Kipruto, and the world number 1 this season, Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali. The former has chosen the MEETING de PARIS to make his comeback, having been away from the track since May as a result of a foot fracture. The second has already bagged two wins this season in Diamond League, on 3 May in Doha (8’07’’22), and above all on 12 July in Monaco (8’04’’82). The 8-minute barrier might well be broken for the first time this season. However, they aren’t the only ones with victory in their sights in a fast-changing discipline. This is notably evidenced by the performances of Kenyan Benjamin Kigen (8’05’’12 this season) and Ethiopian Chala Beyo, credited with 8’06’’48 this season, his personal best. The Parisian public will have the opportunity to cheer on the new French champion, Djilali Bedrani, who’s run a sub-8’10 time (8’09’’47 on 12 July in Monaco) for the first time this year.

MEN’S 110M HURDLES

Just weeks away from the Worlds in Doha, the discipline is looking for its leader. American Grant Holloway is the only athlete under 13 seconds this season (12’’98 on 7 June in Austin). Ranked just below him is his compatriot Daniel Roberts, just 21 years of age (13’’00 on 7 June in Austin), he too in attendance, as is Spaniard Orlando Ortega, Olympic No.2 (13’’05 on 5 July in Lausanne). Fighting fit at the start of the season, Sergey Shubenkov injured himself during a collision with Omar McLeod on 16 June in Rabat. He’ll be making his comeback at the MEETING de PARIS. In the French contingent, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, European champion, is back in shape after a training session in Montpellier and he’ll be keen to nail a strong performance before the world championships. In race B, Dimitri Bascou, Aurel Manga and Ludovic Payen will be after a performance worthy of a place in Doha.