Among the highlights expected in Monaco on July 19 and 20, five key moments will be particularly under scrutiny. Because they’ll inevitably put on a show, because they’ll give us a bit more of an insight into France’s chances at the Euro in Berlin, or because they’ll perpetuate the festive spirit that reigns on the Louis II track…
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Shot put: the stars safely into port
Let’s not deny ourselves a good thing: the competition and its sumptuous setting will both bring something special to the party, particularly given that the show will be open to all and free for the public. As such, there should be a sizeable crowd to witness, among the female athletes, first of all, a competition worthy of a global final. Judge for yourselves: the reigning Olympic champion Michelle Carter, the 2017 world champion Lijiao Gong, Danniel Thomas-Dodd, 2nd in the Indoor Worlds back in the winter, not to mention Valerie Adams, double Olympic champion and quadruple world champion… Among the men, American Ryan Crouser, Olympic champion 2016, will be matched up against Tom Walsh, world champion 2017 and David Storl, world champion in 2011 and 2013. Not to mention the French athletes: Frédéric Dagée, top of the tricolour leaderboard right now, and a certain Kevin Mayer, world decathlon champion, who is sure to electrify the crowd in the hunt for a personal best among the discipline’s strongmen.
110m hurdles: thirteen unmissable seconds
No need to look any further: in athletics, the 110m hurdles always transforms the banal into the spectacular, especially when you have some of the top specialists on the planet on the start line… Sergey Shubenkov will be keen to shine on the Louis II track. Clocked at 12”92, he’ll be looking to improve his time. Pushing him hard will be the Spaniard Orlando Ortega, second at the Rio Games, Jamaican Hansle Parchment, already an Olympic and world medallist… and a certain Aries Merritt, world record holder in a time of 12”80. We can also count on Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, who knows the Louis II track very well having secured the French record there in 2014 (12”95). Kevin Mayer is sure to rock up at the specialists’ party too, where he’ll be hoping to bag a new personal best.
800m: at the champions’ ball
In one way or another, the double lap of the track will be one of the evening highlights in Monaco. Whether it be among the female or male athletes, world champions will colour proceedings. Among the women, it’s highly likely that the double Olympic champion and triple world champion, South African Caster Semenya, will lead the way. It will be down to her rivals, Kenyan Margaret Wambui, Burundian Francine Niyonsaba or French athlete Rénelle Lamote to keep pace and try to improve on the time.
Another world champion will be competing in the male contingent: Pierre-Ambroise Bosse. He’ll be looking to secure a reference time prior to the European Championships in Berlin. He’ll be up against the Botswanan Nigel Amos, Olympic number 2 in 2012, the Pole Marcin Lewandowski or the Kenyan Alfred Kipketer.
All disciplines: the French contingent out in force
It’s been said before, several French athletes on the Rock will be after a prestigious victory, a personal best or simply an opportunity to seek reassurance in the run-up to the European Championships in Berlin (from 6 to 12 August). Kevin Mayer, Rénelle Lamote, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and Pierre-Ambroise Bosse already have a European medal in their line of sight. Frédéric Dagée will be keen to move up a notch and compete amongst the global elite in the shot put. In the 3,000m steeplechase, Ophélie Claude-Boxberger intends to show that she’s at the peak of fitness. Among the jumpers, Ninon Guillon-Romarin will be looking to improve still further on her own French record in the pole vault (4.73m), and position herself as slightly less of an outsider for Berlin. Harold Correa will have similar aims in the triple jump, where he’ll be accompanied by Jean-Marc Pontvianne. Finally, Floria Gueï, will also be looking to hone her European ambitions in the 400m. Plenty of scope then to prepare for a stellar demonstration of blue, white and red fireworks. It’s certainly a propitious period for it on French soil…
The closing ceremony: Martin Solveig on the decks
It’s a Frenchman who will likely be the last to leave the Louis II track. However, success is virtually guaranteed for him before he even begins. Martin Solveig, a DJ who is on every front and is as eclectic in his music as he is a fan of sport, will be on the decks to continue the festive tradition of the Monacan meeting. His concert, in the guise of a closing show, is set to be on a par with the athletes’ brilliant performances: lift-off guaranteed.