Teenager Mohammed Aman (left) halts David Rudisha's 800m win streak in rainy Milan (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright
General News 5 June 2012 – Paris, France

Middle and long distance running with an Olympic air in Paris– Samsung Diamond League

Paris, FranceWith a month to go until the 2012 edition, the Meeting Areva – Samsung Diamond League meeting is taking shape (6 July).

Indeed the Ile de France meeting, which forms the seventh stage of the 14 meeting Samsung Diamond League series, is this year benefiting from a very favourable position in the international event schedule. Due to take place on 6 July, it falls just three weeks before the start of the Olympic Games in London. As such the athletes are set to be at the peak of fitness, before they tackle the final round of preparation with a view to the Olympic event itself.

Added to this, the Meeting in Paris is also the final opportunity for the French athletes to achieve the qualifying performances required to compete in the Games. Finally, the Americans will be able to take part in the Paris event without the pressure of the Olympic selections as their 'trials’ have been arranged from 22 June to 1 July in Eugene, Oregon.

For all these reasons, the Meeting Areva 2012 is shaping up to be one of the season’s most enticing bills. Its organisers are currently putting the finishing touches to the line-up, with each day bringing its fair share of new features. In the sprint and other track events, the next few days should enable the presence of some of the greatest names in the athletics world to be made official. In middle and long distance running however, at least three of the evening’s races, the men’s 800m, 5000m and 3000m Steeplechase, the identity of the star performers can be announced...

Men’s 800m – Rudisha against Aman

This will be one of the evening’s highlights without fail. Taking the start will be the undisputed number one over this distance, Kenyan David Rudisha, World record holder (1:41.01 in 2010) and World champion, up against the latest revelation in middle-distance running, Ethiopian Mohammed Aman, just 18 years of age, who this season has been credited with a time of 1:43.51.

Of greatest note Aman beat Rudisha in Milan at the end of the 2011 season and this season he’s already run less than 1:44 no fewer than three times. Furthermore, he came close to snatching victory from the Sudanese athlete, Abubaker Kaki, during last Saturday’s Samsung Diamond League meeting in Eugene (1:43.71 to 1:43.74).

Rudisha has so far competed in two 800m races this season: 1:44.33 in Melbourne in early March, and his 1:43.10 which is the world fastest so far this season from the opening Samsung Diamond League on 11 May in Doha.

Men’s 5000m – Bekele up against Lagat

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele takes on American Bernard Lagat in the 5000m. Bekele, who’ll be celebrating his 30th birthday next week, holds the World record (12:37.35 in 2004), and is reigning Olympic champion. Lagat, one of the veterans of middle-distance running at 37 years of age, was World 5000m champion in 2007 in Osaka, a distance where he secured the silver medal at the Berlin Worlds in 2009 and in Daegu last year. That same year he achieved a personal best of 12:53.60.

Bekele was fourth in Eugene (13:01.48) his only 5000m of the season so far, while Lagat hasn’t so far raced the distance in 2012.

Men’s 3000m Steeplechase – A French-Kenyan showdown

This season, the 3000m steeplechase has already secured three sub-8 minute times, two achieved by Paul Kipsiele Koech, winner in Doha on 11 May with 7:56.58, then again at another Samsung Diamond League meeting in Rome on 31 May with 7:54.31, which equates to the third best time in history.

In the Stade de France he’ll be up against two French aces over this distance, Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad and Bouabdellah Tahri. A France-Kenya showdown then, which will take on the airs of a dress rehearsal for the Olympic final.

Organisers of the IAAF