Three weeks prior to the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in London, the athletes are very close to their peak of fitness and they proved that this Friday during the Meeting Areva, the seventh leg of the Diamond League. Of course the Stade de France will again have to wait at least a year to see its first world record fall in the senior category, but still it was the theatre for some fantastic performances. In total, there were five best performances in the world, two Meeting records and a Junior world record broken. Whilst conditions were cool, somewhat miraculously, the rain held off as soon as the first competition was launched.
David Rudisha gave his absolute all to beat the world record over 800m, but he fell short by just 53 hundredths of a second. In the 3,000m steeplechase, Paul Koech was also targeting a world record, but he ‘only’ beat the Meeting Areva record. The same was true for Australian, Sally Pearson in the 100m hurdles. Javier Culson (400m hurdles), Dejen Gebremeskel (5,000m) and Mariem Alaoui Selsouli (1,500m) are the other new best performers of the year. Honours also go to Ethiopian, Hagos Gebrhiwet, who beat the Junior World Record during a crazy 5,000m, which enabled Hassan Hirt to be the only Frenchman on the quest for the minimum Olympic requirement to secure his ticket for London.
As regards the French, clearly spectators only had eyes for Renaud Lavillenie and Christophe Lemaitre, the recent European champions. Greeted by a wonderfully warm standing ovation, the two athletes didn’t explode every record in the book, but they did pull out some solid performances. In the pole vault, Lavillenie stood out, but ‘only’ with 5.77m, which equates to twenty centimetres short of his performance in Helsinki. As for Lemaitre, up against the American ‘monsters’, Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, he couldn’t do better than third and didn’t achieve the much anticipated, sub-10 second time (10''08). Ultimately Lavillenie is the only European champion to impose at the Stade de France. His compatriot Eloyse Lesueur finished third in the long jump, the Spaniard Ruth Betia was third in the high jump, Turk Gülcan Mingir was fifth in the 3,000m steeplechase and the Czech Vitezslav Vesely was second in the javelin. The majority of them will now set their sights on the next Diamond League Meetings in London or Monaco, before focusing on their final objective: the Olympic Games in London (27 July-12 August).