With a little less than six weeks to go until the MEETING AREVA 2013, the French stage of the IAAF Diamond League which is scheduled for Saturday 6 July in the Stade de France, two of the top stars of French athletics, pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie and sprinter Christophe Lemaitre, came together for a quick question-and-answer session.
Lavillenie has the aim of adding a fifth consecutive victory to his series of successes at the MEETING AREVA.
This time the London 2012 Olympic Games champion will not have to fend off attacks from the German pole vaulters, who will contest their national championships on the same day, but he will face the USA’s Brad Walker, who is joint top of the 2013 world outdoor lists with 5.83m, Greek vaulter Kostandinos Filippidis, the Diamond League winner in Doha earlier this month with 5.82m, and Great Britain’s Steven Lewis, who was fifth at the Olympic Games last summer.
Lemaitre has an even more complicated task if he is to triumph in the 200m.
Topping the list of his rivals is Usain Bolt, the world record holder and six-time Olympic Games gold medallist, and his compatriots Warren Weir, Nickel Ashmeade and Jason Young, as well The Netherlands’ Churandy Martina.
Other big names for the meeting which were announced on Wednesday are: Grenada’s Kirani James, and the Olympic and World 400m champion will be competing over one lap of the track, and France’s two-time Olympic Games 3000m Steeplechase gold medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, who has his sights on the European record of 8:01.18, which has been held since 2009 by his compatriot Bouabdellah Tahri.
Q: Christophe Lemaitre:, how do you view your start to the season?
CL: My preparations are going very well. I haven’t changed my training routine in relation to last year. I’m doing around the same number of sessions. I feel good and the work has been well done.Up till now though, I haven’t yet managed to translate all that into the competitions on the track. I’m not worried, as I’m still aiming to be at the peak of fitness for the major championships later in the season. However I’d like to get close to 10.10 in the 100m, just to reassure myself. In the 200m, at the Montreuil meeting, next Monday (3 June),I’d like to improve on my season’s best of 20.35.
Q: In your view, is it an advantage to compete in the Stade de France, in such a vast arena? CL: When I run in France, I prefer to do it in a big stadium. I can feel the crowd behind me, which drives me on and I’ve always been pretty successful in the Stade de France. I have some excellent memories of the place.
CL: I’d have loved to have participated in the 2003 World Championships on this track. At the time, I didn’t know anything about athletics, but now it’s likely that I won’t have the chance to experience an event such as this at home before the end of my career.
Q: The advertising campaign for the 2013 edition of the MEETING AREVA portrays you as a Superman of athletics, which power would you like to have?
CL: I’d like to run faster; and to fly too. Most of all, I’d like to be invisible. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being able to make myself invisible so I could hide away after doing something silly!
Q: Renaud Lavillenie, how do you view your start to the season?
RL: I’m satisfied with my preparation. In Forbach, last Sunday, I only jumped 5.45m, but the weather conditions were really very difficult. I used a shorter run up too. I’m now heading to Eugene to compete in the Diamond League meeting (on Saturday), at a facility where the record stands at 6.03m. I’ll have my sights there the best outdoor world performance this year). However, above all, I’m keen to get to July, a period where I jump higher, and to the MEETING AREVA in particular, where I always feel fantastic.
Q: In your view, is it an advantage to compete in the Stade de France in such a vast arena?
RL: The pressure is more intense there. As a Frenchman, I don’t allow myself to consider defeat. I reckon that jumping at a big home meeting is an opportunity you need to make the most of.
Q: The advertising campaign for the 2013 edition of the MEETING AREVA depicts you as a Superman of athletics, which power would you like to have?
RL: I would like to actually be Superman, to jump even higher than six metres. However, more seriously, I think that all of us athletes already have very adequate human talents.
Organisers for the IAAF
2013 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 10 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
New York, USA – 25 May
Eugene, USA – 1 Jun
Rome, ITA – 6 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 13 Jun
Birmingham, GBR – 30 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 4 Jul
Paris, FRA – 6 Jul
Monaco, MON – 19 Jul
London, GBR – 26-27 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 22 Aug
Zürich, SUI – 29 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 6 Sep