Welcome to Paris! The slogan written in large print on the visual for the 2023 edition of the Wanda Diamond League Meeting de Paris sets the tone: with one year to go until the Olympic Games in Paris, the stars of French and international athletics will be welcomed with open arms into the capital, where they’ll be able to find their bearings and get a sense of the growing support from the public as the event of a lifetime approaches.
Not able to compete in their droves last year due to the US Trials being hosted just after the Paris meet, the American athletes should be out in force in Paris this time. Indeed, the boss of the high hurdles, Grant Holloway, has already confirmed his presence. For the double world outdoor champion and indoor world record holder, and former student of Florida University, this will only be his second time performing at the Wanda Diamond League Meeting de Paris, following a debut appearance in 2019 which culminated in a sixth place. Very spectacular, with an extremely powerful technique, Mike Holloway’s student will be keen to post his first stand-out performance in Charléty, in an event where a number of the French athletes will be equally keen to take centre stage.
However, the spectators’ darling in the stadium will undoubtedly be Kevin Mayer. The reigning world champion of the decathlon has really got used to excelling at the Wanda Diamond League Meeting de Paris, where his numerous supporters really give him a boost. He’ll be competing in the triathlon, which will include the 110 m hurdles, long jump and shot put competitions. In fact, it is in the latter event that he posted the best performance of his career, with a throw of 17.08 m in 2019.
“The Meeting de Paris has a special place in my schedule, explains the world record holder in the decathlon. I’ve enjoyed some great moments here, posting several personal best performances. Each time I feel like I transcend myself in what is a fantastic stadium for our sport, where the spectators are close to us and I really feel at home given the incredible public support. You know that I set great store by showcasing the combined events within the context of the more major competitions. With this in mind, this competition gives me a fantastic opportunity to fly the flag for my sport and I’ll be giving my all to shine here with two months until the world championships in Budapest.”
Rénelle Lamote is also beaming as she discusses her past two performances in the 800 m at the Parisian meet, in 2018 and in 2019. More than the performance itself though, what this middle-distance runner coached by Bruno Gajer most remembers is the unique atmosphere of a meeting of this calibre contested on home soil. “I’m used to participating in races overseas, where the public doesn’t necessarily get behind me when the athletes are introduced, she smiles. There’s always added strength in Paris. I know that I’ll be able to count on more support, which is really nice.” The European number two on the double lap of the track, who passed a major milestone in last year’s Wanda Diamond League with no fewer than five podiums, intends to make the most of this 2023 edition to hone her craft before Paris 2024. “Running on home soil is also an added pressure because I really want to do well. I think the public will be even more attentive than usual to the performances of the French athletes. It’s going to be a good dress rehearsal.” That’s as true for her as it is for the thousands of spectators expected to attend.