The setting is changing, the tone remains. For its return to the Charléty Stadium, on Saturday 1 July, the MEETING de PARIS will offer the public a line-up worthy of its most stellar years. On the track will be no fewer than 7 reigning Olympic champions. As a bonus, the pride of French athletics will be represented by 4 of its medallists from the Rio Games 2016. A guarantee for the French leg of the IAAF Diamond League of an evening driven by performance.
Last year, the MEETING de PARIS saw a new world record tumble, in the 3,000m steeple chase, Ruth Jebet crossed the finish line in 8’52’’78. Will it feature the same privilege this year? Among the athletes competing on the night, there are a handful who have their sights on a place in the history books. Topping the list is American Christian Taylor. The World Olympic triple jump champion pulled a blinder on 27 May in Eugene, Oregon, clearing 18.11m, the 2nd best performance in his career. Since then, he has been determined to attack the world record, currently held by Briton Jonathan Edwards (18.29m). To push him in his entrenchments, he will be able to count on his compatriot Will Claye, Olympic vice champion in Rio, author of a personal record at 17.82 m this season. A beautiful contest in perspective !
Mutaz Barshim, the Olympic No.2 in the high jump, established his position very early on in the season at the top of the world ranking. He’s secured the five best performances of the year, peaking at 2.38m in Oslo. The Qatari is in great shape. He loves Paris. He’ll also be able to count on a wealth of stiff opposition (Derek Drouin, Olympic champion, Gianmarco Tamberi, European champion, Robert Grabarz, Bogdan Bondarenko…) to set his sights even higher.
Omar McLeod, the Olympic champion in the 110m hurdles, is also at the top of his game and currently remains undefeated. Indeed, the Jamaican hurdler is the only athlete to have scored a sub-13’’10 this season, with the top 4 times in the world ranking. However, the line-up put together by the Paris organisers suggests a hitherto unrivalled standard for this year’s competition. On the start line will be the next three athletes in the world ranking: compatriot Ronald Levy (13’’10), American Devon Allen (13’’11), and above all South African Antonio Alkana, a new record holder from Africa with a time of 13’’11. Among the French contingent, we have Dimitri Bascou, the Olympic bronze medallist, and Garfield Darien, credited with 13”20 in Montreuil on 1 June. Another key attraction is Russian Sergey Shubenkov, world champion in 2015, who the IAAF has allowed to compete in international competitions as a neutral athlete.
The pole vault competition promises to be explosive. Having cleared 5.80m at four competitions this season, Renaud Lavillenie is after a personal best for the season at the MEETING de PARIS, a meeting where he has amassed a sizeable haul of victories. His main rivals will be American Sam Kendricks, bronze medallist at the Rio Games, with a jump of 5.88m this season and Canadian Shawn Barber, reigning world champion.
In the female contingent, one name dominates the bill: Elaine Thompson. Olympic champion in the 100 and 200m last year in Rio, the Jamaican will be competing at the Charléty Stadium in the shorter of the two distances. She holds the best time of the season, posting 10’’78 on 13 May in Shanghai at the IAAF Diamond League meeting. Elaine Thompson is doing little running, but every one of her appearances is an event in itself. To spur her on are two athletes from the Cote d’Ivoire Murielle Ahouré (10’’83) and Marie-Josée Ta Lou (11’’03).
Last year, the women’s 3,000m steeplechase proved to be a highlight of the MEETING de PARIS. Ruth Jebet is back at the spot where it all happened, with the aim of beating her world record. To achieve this, she’ll be able to count on the Kenyan athlete Celliphine Chespol to drive her into a corner. At just 18 years of age, she created a stir on 27 May in Eugene by snatching victory, with the second best time in history (8’58’’78), and the world junior record. She is an immense talent and as yet her potential is unknown.
On the big night, the women’s 1,500m could well be the race to follow. We’re expecting a duel at the summit between Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba, world record holder and Faith Kipyegon, reigning Olympic champion. However, Sifan Hassan, the world’s best performer this year over the distance thanks to a time of 3’56”14, could well play referee. This event will gather together the complete podium from the World Championships 2015. Proof then, that the very cream of athletics will be competing at the MEETING de PARIS.
In line with tradition, the MEETING de PARIS 2017 will have a decidedly French aroma. Indeed, one week after the European Team Championships in Lille (23 to 25 June), the Blues will hit the track in the Charléty Stadium with a winning air. Christophe Lemaitre could also take the competition by storm in the 200m. He’s posted a very consistent performance this season, a point nailed home by his 2nd place in Rome in 20’’29. He will doubtless be able to switch up the pace to dominate the Turk Ramil Guliyev, 2nd best performer in Europe this season with a time of 20’’08. Finally, the addition of a triathlon to the evening’s programme will give Kevin Mayer, Olympic No.2 in the decathlon, the chance to perform at the MEETING de PARIS for the second consecutive time. This time, he might well secure the win.
NEW IAAF DIAMOND LEAGUE SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION
The IAAF Diamond League is restructuring in 2017, so as to adopt a similar model to that of the championships. In total, 3.2 million dollars will be shared between the finalists in the circuit’s 32 events. The athletes will score points in the first 12 meetings of the IAAF Diamond League and in this way they will qualify for the two final meetings, where some $100,000 will be at stake for each of the 32 disciplines. The winners will each be awarded $50,000.
Here are the amounts, which the finalists of the 32 events will win :
1st – $50,000
2nd – $20,000
3rd – $10,000
4th – $6,000
5th – $5,000
6th – $4,000
7th – $3,000
8th – $2,000