Just back from Helsinki, where the curtain has fallen over the European Championships, the athletic elite from the Old World is preparing to hit the road to Paris. No fewer than nine of the newly awarded European Champions will be in attendance at the Stade de France on Friday 6 July, for the 2012 edition of the MEETING AREVA. Four boys and five girls, three of whom are French.
A familiar face at the Ile de France meeting, despite being just 22 years of age, Christophe Lemaitre will celebrate his second European 100m title in front of a home crowd in the Stade de France. Up against him will be two aces from American sprinting: Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin.
In the pole vault, Renaud Lavillenie scored a double in Helsinki: European title for the second year running and best performance in the world this season (5.97m). On Friday evening, the Frenchman will be up against the runner-up in the European Championships, German Björn Otto, author of a new personal best of 5.92m.
After not surprisingly taking the world title last year in Daegu, German David Storl has added the European gold medal to his prize hoard in the shot put competition after his best throw of the season, 21.58m. At the MEETING AREVA, he’ll be able to count on the pride of American throwers, fresh out of their trials, to try to drive him into a corner.
Finally, among the boys, the public will have a chance to discover the new force in the European javelin competition, Vitezslav Vesely. In Helsinki, the Czech secured a continental title which his coach, the legendary Jan Zelezny, never managed to pull off, despite his three Olympic titles.
In the women’s competition, the 200m is likely to be reminiscent of a revenge match between Ukrainian Mariya Ryemyen, who won in Helsinki, and French runner Myriam Soumaré, bronze medallist, but European Champion two years earlier in Barcelona. This race within a race will certainly be worth keeping a close eye on.
Turk Gülcan Mingir, European gold medallist in the 3,000m steeplechase, isn’t likely to miss out on the opportunity offered up by the Paris meeting to weigh up his Olympic chances against the best Africans over the distance.
In the high jump, the European final saw Spaniard, Ruth Beitia, stand out in the trials against the young Norwegian, Tonje Angelsen. Clearing 1.97m, Ruth achieved a season’s best to boot, whilst the second jumper scored a new personal best. Both young women will be in the Stade de France, on Friday, to try to match American Chaunté Lowe, author of the second best performance in the world during the trials in Eugene with a jump of 2.01m.
Meantime, in the long jump competition, the French crowd will only have eyes for Eloyse Lesueur. The French athlete secured her first European title in Helsinki, launching a motion, which would enable the Blues to amass 14 medals in Finland. In the Stade de France, she’ll be up against Russian Anna Nazarova (7.11m last June) and American Janay DeLoach (7.03m last week in Eugene).
Finally, in the discus competition, Croatian Sandra Perkovic scored some valuable points in Helsinki, by winning a European final, whose line-up boasted some of the most serious pretenders to the Olympic podium. She’s sure to want to drive the point home in the Stade de France.