World records set to tremble !
19:28 MEN’S POLE VAULT HIGHLIGHT
In the Stade de France, Renaud Lavillenie is unfamiliar with the word ‘defeat’. Indeed, year in year out the Frenchman dominates with clockwork regularity, but he is yet to clear 6m or more there. He is making no secret of the fact that this is his aim for this year. “I finally want to jump at least 6m at the MEETING AREVA”, he acknowledged last month. His victory in Eugene, on 30 May, together with a jump of 6.05m, shows that he’s in peak condition. The Parisian organisers have rounded up some stiff competition for him, which includes two of the most promising pole-vaulters of the day, Brazilian Thiago Braz, 21, (PB of 5.86m on 4 June in Rome), and American Sam Kendricks, 22, (PB of 5.82m on 25 April in Des Moines). Weather permitting Renaud Lavillenie will attempt to break his own world record, an indoor jump of 6.16m dating back to February 2014 in Donetsk.
20:10 MEN’S HIGH JUMP HIGHLIGHT
In the men’s high jump, there will be a two-pronged attack on the world record. Indeed there will be a least two athletes hammering on the gates of the Stade de France with the aim of obliterating the performance posted by Cuban Javier Sotomayor back in 1993 (2.45m): Qatari Mutaz Essa Barshim and Ukrainian Bohdan Bondarenko. The first of the two boasts a strong service record with a personal best of 2.43m, set last year in Brussels. Most importantly though, he currently sits at the top of the world leaderboard for this season with a jump of 2.41m in Eugene, and another only marginally less stratospheric of 2.38m in Shanghai. The Ukrainian has ‘only’ managed 2.37m this year, a performance posted early this season in Japan. However, he too is openly targeting the world record.
19:17 and 21:30 110m HURDLES HIGHLIGHT
In the 110m hurdles, pinpointing exactly where the danger will come from is anyone’s guess. However, the best time on the planet, set by Aries Merritt in 2012 in Brussels (12’’80), will certainly be in the firing line. There are two reasons for this. The first is linked to the quality of the Stade de France’s track. Over recent years, three athletes have posted a time of 12’’95 or less here: Dayron Robles in 2008 (12’’88, MEETING AREVA record), David Oliver in 2010 (12’’89) and Hansle Parchment last year (12’’94). The second reason relates to the quality of the line-up: Americans Aries Merritt, David Oliver and Aleec Harris, Cuban Orlando Ortega, French athletes Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, Wilhem Belocian and Dimitri Bascou and Russian Sergey Shubenkov… Every one of them has been putting up some great fights since the start of the season and there have never been so many French hurdlers in the world’s top 20. In fact, it is this density that prompted the organisers to put two 110m hurdles events on their programme, so that these athletes can benefit from some top-flight competitions with a view to Beijing and Rio. Clearly one would be hard pushed to do better.
20:27 WOMEN’S 5,000m HIGHLIGHT
The leaderboard appears to be somewhat clearer in the women’s 5,000m. The young Ethiopian Almaz Ayana, 23, is coming to Paris to break the world record. She has announced as much. And, to pull that off, she has asked the organisers of the MEETING AREVA to construct a race cut out for her challenge. A bronze medallist in the Moscow Worlds in 2013, the Ethiopian created a stir by completing the distance in 14’14’’32 on 17 May in Shanghai, which equates to the third best performance in history. She is currently a little over three seconds away from the world record, which has been in the hands of her compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba (14’11’’15) since 2008. She hopes to make up that deficit on Saturday 4 July in the Stade de France.
17:30 GATES OPEN to the STADE DE FRANCE
18:25 to 22:00 MEETING AREVA – IAAF DIAMOND LEAGUE
The rest of the evening promises to be no less explosive. Topping the list and yet slotted in at the very end of the programme (21:56), is a particularly exciting men’s 100m, in the presence of the sprint legend Usain Bolt. The ‘Lightning Bolt’ will be up against his compatriot Asafa Powell, two French sprinters Jimmy Vicaut and Christophe Lemaitre and Americans Mike Rodgers and Ryan Bailey. Kirani James, the 400m prodigy and already the Olympic and World champion at just 22 years of age, will be the star attraction in the lap of the track. In the women’s 100m, the public will also get the chance to discover Dutch athlete Dafne Schippers, the new queen of European sprinting. Kenyan Eunice Jepkoech Sum, world number 1 in the 800m since her time of 1’57’’82 in Eugene, will be seeking to consolidate her position on the top spot. Finally, it will be worth keeping a close eye on the women’s triple jump, where the reigning world champion, Colombian Caterine Ibargüen, will have her sights on snatching back the lead of the world ranking from Russian Yekaterina Koneva, who was victorious in late May in Eugene with a jump of 15.04m.