The fan favourite in Paris - Renaud Lavillenie (Errol Anderson) © Copyright
Lavillenie, who won the inaugural Samsung Diamond League Trophy in the event in 2010 and soared to the European title in Barcelona, has already displayed stellar form in 2011. After opening his season with a 5.61m clearance in early December, the 24-year-old scaled 5.92m in Aubiere, France, on 15 January to add seven centimeters to his indoor career best. That performance came atop some already impressive momentum from a 2010 season in which the Frenchman won 13 of his 16 competitions outdoors.
His Lievin appearance will be an important warm-up for his European indoor title defence in Paris in March. Among the men Lavillenie will face in Lievin include Germany's Malte Mohr, the reigning World indoor silver medallist.
Kaki, still only 21, took the past two World indoor 800m titles back home to Sudan. Kaki captured that first title in Valencia in 2008 in 1:44.81, a performance that still ranks him as the sixth fastest man ever indoors.
The men's 1500m holds considerable promise as well. Kenyan Silas Kiplagat, last year's fastest man outdoors, will take on Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen, who like Kaki, captured his second consecutive World indoor gold in Doha's Aspire Dome last March. The two will take on French middle distance ace Mehdi Baala.
Teddy Tamgho also shined brightly in Doha last winter, taking the World indoor title with a 17.90m World record leap. The young Frenchman is set to face Swede Christian Olsson, the man he succeeded as World indoor record holder.
French sprint strength will also be on display. Christophe Lemaitre, the triple European champion in Barcelona last summer, will line up in the 60m while his teammate Martial M'Bandjock will line up in the 200m. In a rarely-run 300m race, Leslie Djhone will face Belgian twins Kevin and Jonathan Borlée. Kevin is the reigning European 400m champion.
Organizers and Bob Ramsak for the IAAF
- The fan favourite in Paris - Renaud Lavillenie (Errol Anderson) © Copyright
- Deresse Mekonnen of Ethiopia on his way to winning gold in the 1500m final (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Teddy Tamgho of France with World indoor record scoreboard in Doha (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Abubaker Kaki of Sudan wins a near gun to tape victory in the men's 800m to retain his World Indoor title (Getty Images) © Copyright