19 JUN 2009 General News Paris, France

Vlasic vs Friedrich, Robles confirmed for Paris - ÅF Golden League

Ariane Friedrich soars over the bar in front of a large home crowd (Getty Images)Ariane Friedrich soars over the bar in front of a large home crowd (Getty Images) © Copyright

The curtain has fallen at the ISTAF meeting in Berlin, the first stage of the ÅF Golden League, contested last Sunday. In Berlin, one of the high points of the meeting was the women’s High Jump competition, at the peak of which was a duel between the German Ariane Friedrich, the European indoor champion, and the Croatian Blanka Vlasic, the reigning World champion.

The former took victory, amidst a sentiment of general surprise; clearing a national record jump of 2.06m, before trying in vain to the equal the World record, set by Bulgarian Stefka Kostadinova back on 30th August 1987, of 2.09m. The two young women will again be jumping in the Stade de France for the Meeting AREVA. They’ve formally ensured their presence with the director of the meeting, neither of them concealing the fact that they are keen to continue their impressive head-to-head, with their sights on a World record.

Robles returns to site of his 'best race'

Another certainty is the presence in the Stade de France track of Cuban Dayron Robles. The Olympic champion and world recordman of the 110 m hurdles has never disguised the fact that the Paris meet has a special place in his heart.

“The best race of my career, to date, wasn’t my World record last June in Ostrava (12.87). Instead it was my victory in the Stade de France, a month later, of 12.88," he admitted back in the spring in Havana. "That day, I felt a little as if I were in a dream, perfectly relaxed, controlling my subject from start to finish.”

Robles made a promising comeback frominjury in Thessaloniki on 10 June, covering the distance in 13.30. But everything kicked back into shape on Wedensday night in Ostrava as he won his race in 13.04, the fastest of the year so far. The Meeting AREVA has been underlined in bold by his coach, Santiago Antunez, as it will be a chance to cross paths with some of his main rivals and confirm his leadership in the discipline.

Bolt in the 100m

With a month to go until the event, the line-up for the Stade de France meeting is gradually taking its definitive shape. Usain Bolt is, more than ever before, the indisputable main attraction. The Jamaican will be running in the 100m, 10 days after competing in the 200m at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne. His second race of the season, on 11 June in Toronto, ended with an almost innocuous time of 10 seconds flat, on a waterlogged track. His third run proved more convincing: a slightly wind-aided 9.77 wednesday night in Ostrava! Can he go even faster in the Stade de France?

As for the rest, the Meeting AREVA will be a chance for the public in the Stade de France to see the unmissable Yelena Isinbayeva in the Pole Vault. Kenenisa Bekele will be running in the 3000 m and American Sanya Richards in the 400m; the eternal Scandinavian duellists Andreas Thorkildsen and Tero Pitkämäki in the javelin, a Triple Jump competition as dense as it will be high performance with Teddy Tamgho and Benjamin Compaoré amongst the French contingent. Finally, we’ll be delighted to welcome back the unfortunate athlete from the last Olympic Games in Beijing: Lolo Jones in the 100m hurdles.

Organisers for the IAAF