David Rudisha - sensational 1:41.74 in New York (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
The two athletes haven’t yet had a chance to compete at this particular Parisian meeting. Rudisha hasn’t even run on the Stade de France track before. As such, the French stage of the Samsung Diamond League will be a Parisian baptism for the 800m world champion. For her part, Pearson has already experienced the atmosphere in the former Parisian stadium, in Saint-Denis. In 2003, aged just 16, she was selected for the Australian 4x100m for the Paris-Saint-Denis World Championship. However, she never got further than the rounds.
Their presence at the Meeting Areva should ensure both spectacle and high performance at the French meeting. Indeed the two athletes share a common characteristic: they don’t know how to run slowly. The stopwatch trembles in their presence, whatever the circumstances. Rudisha only knows a single tactic: lead from the start, go into the lead at the midway mark, and frequently finish at the front. Pearson seems to be driven by the same desire to push back the limits each time she performs. In Daegu, in the 2011 Worlds, she ran a time of 12.36, a new record for Oceania .. in the semi-finals!
This season Rudisha has already created a stir. In New York, on 9 June, he came close to breaking his own World record (1:41.01) by crossing the finish line in 1:41.71. Given that two even younger prodigies will be running in the Stade de France with him, Ethiopian Mohammed Aman, 18 (1:43.51 this year), and the Kenyan Leonard Kosencha, 18, (1:43.60), there is sure to be a World record air floating over the track in Paris.
Pearson certainly hasn’t been kicking her heels either. The Australian holds no less than the two world best times this season: a time of 12.49, achieved at the start of March in Melbourne, and repeated on 7 June at the Bislett in Oslo, Norway.
True to form, she hasn’t yet lost a race and she also managed a 100m dash at the start of the year just to check her burst of speed. The demonstration spoke volumes: 11.25 in January in Sydney. At the Meeting Areva Pearson won’t be lacking adversaries either. Indeed the organisers have ensured the participation of the American-born British athlete Tiffany Porter, credited with 12.65 this season, and the American Kristi Castlin, this season’s revelation with a time of 12.56 at the Oslo meeting, just behind Pearson.
Another highlight of the 2012 edition is the participation of two of the firmest Olympic medal hopes from British athletics. David Greene, World champion 2011 in the 400m hurdles, will be lining up against Javier Culson of Puerto Rico, this season's fastest at 47.92 on 7 June in Oslo. Phillips Idowu, World gold medallist in 2009 and European gold medallist the following year in the Triple Jump, will be vying on this familiar track with the top Cuban of the moment, Osviel Hernandez, author of a 17.49m triple jump early this year. With three weeks to go till the start of the London Games, this British presence will give the meeting a strong Olympic flavour.
Organisers for the IAAF