Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahouré, Cuba’s Yuniel Perez and American hurdler Kevin Craddock are the three current 2013 world leaders who will be in action at the third edition of the ‘Meeting International Val de Reuil’ on Tuesday night (12).
The meeting, in the Stade Jesse Owens, will be the highlight of French indoor season before the national championships In Aubiere next weekend, as the traditional Liévin meeting has been cancelled due to roof damage.
Ahouré, the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships 60m silver medallist last year, opened her season in the best possible way by flying to an African 60m record of 7.00 in Houston in 26 January. In Val de Reuil, she is looking to remain unbeaten for the fourth consecutive meeting this winter, and maybe become the first African woman to break the seven-second barrier.
She faces a strong field that includes Bulgaria’s 2012 European Athletics Championships 100m gold medallist Ivet Lalova, who won at the IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting in Karlsruhe in 7.19 a week ago, and US sprinter Barbara Pierre, who clocked 7.12 in Dusseldorf on Friday when finishing just 0.04 behind Ahouré.
Perez created a surprise in January when flying to 6.53 at a low-key meeting in Valencia. He showed it was no fluke when he lowered his personal best to 6.51 on French soil in Mondeville a week ago but he will be hoping that the tight hamstring which caused him to stall and finish seventh in Dusseldorf on Friday will have loosened by Tuesday.
In Val de Reuil, he will again meet Jamaica’s Lerone Clarke, the winner in Dusseldorf with 6.52, as well as the French runner-up Jimmy Vicaut, who clocked 6.53 in the German city.
Lower expectations of Lemaitre
Christophe Lemaitre will run both 60m and 200m in Val de Reuil but indicated before the start of the winter that he is concentrating on an endurance-based build up towards the outdoor season.
Orlando Ortega was another Cuba athlete to meet with misfortune in Dusseldorf as he finished a distant eighth behind Craddock in the 60m Hurdles while the American sped to a time of 7.50.
However, Ortega showed his true colours last weekend when he won in Karlsruhe in 7.54. France’s Dimitri Bascou lowered his season’s best to 7.61 in Dusseldorf and will be looking to go faster on home soil.
France’s two-time Olympic Games 3000m Steeplechase silver medallist and double European champion Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad is having his first serious indoor season of his career and will contest the 1500m.
He has already won over 1500m in Karlsruhe in 3:36.95 and in Dusseldorf over 3000m in 7:43.72.
Another French star of the moment is 2012 European Athletics Championships Long Jump gold medallist Eloyse Lesueur, won in Karlsruhe with 6.81m, just three centimetres short of her five-year-old French record. She will face former World champion Eunice Barber, 38, who came out of retirement after a three year hiatus when she competed in Eaubonne on Thursday.
P J Vazel for the IAAF