The theme of this year’s Meeting Areva is one of world records. Four marks in particular could come under threat at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris on 4 July.
Already this year, three of the seven fastest times in history have been set in the women’s 5000m. Almaz Ayana leads the 2015 world lists with her 14:14.32 clocking from the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, but the Ethiopian hopes to run at least three seconds quicker in Paris to challenge the world record of 14:11.15, set by Tirunesh Dibaba in 2008.
Ayana has fond memories of competing at the Stade de France. It was where, in 2013, she made a big breakthrough over 5000m, taking 27 seconds off her PB to clock 14:25.84 before going on to take the bronze medal at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
There will be a two-pronged attack on the world record in the men’s high jump. World indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim and world champion Bogdan Bondarenko are no strangers to attempting Javier Sotomayor’s world record of 2.45m. Both athletes will be competing in Paris for the first time.
For the majority of fans at the Stade de France, the pole vault will be the highlight of the meeting. When it comes to Paris, world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie is unfamiliar with the word ‘defeat’. Since the IAAF Diamond League began in 2010, Lavillenie has won at the Stade de France every year.
But the Olympic champion has not yet cleared six metres in the French capital; something he wants to put right this year. “I finally want to jump at least six metres at the Meeting Areva,” said Lavillenie, who set an IAAF Diamond League record of 6.05m last month in Eugene.
In Paris he will face Brazil’s South American record-holder Thiago Braz and US champion Sam Kendricks. Weather permitting, Lavillenie will attempt to break not only Sergey Bubka’s meeting record of 6.00m, but also his own world record of 6.16m.
The other event in which a world record could be broken is the men’s 110m hurdles. Pinpointing exactly where the danger will come from is anyone’s guess, but no other stadium in the world has had more athletes run sub-12.95 than the Stade de France.
Dayron Robles set the meeting record of 12.88 in 2008, and then David Oliver came within 0.01 of that mark in 2010. Last year, Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment clocked a world-leading 12.94 in Paris.
To increase the chances of fast times and the opportunity for the athletes to race against top-class opposition, there will be two 110m hurdles races in Paris. Among the athletes set to compete are USA’s Olympic champion and world record-holder Aries Merritt, world champion David Oliver, US indoor champion Aleec Harris, Olympic finalist Orlando Ortega, European champion Sergey Shubenkov and the trio of French athletes who swept the medals at the European Indoor Championships: Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, Wilhem Belocian and Dmitri Bascou.
The rest of the evening promises to be no less explosive, with an exciting men’s 100m set to bring the night to a close.
Sprint legend Usain Bolt will take on former world record-holder Asafa Powell, 2013 European indoor champion Jimmy Vicaut, 2012 European champion Christophe Lemaitre, US champion Mike Rodgers and Olympic finalist Ryan Bailey.
Elsewhere in the sprints, Olympic champion Kirani James will race over one lap of the track, while double European champion Dafne Schippers will contest the 100m.
World champions Eunice Sum and Caterine Ibarguen will compete in the specialist events, the 800m and triple jump respectively.
Organisers for the IAAF
2015 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 15 May
Shanghai, CHN – 17 May
Eugene, USA – 30 May
Rome, ITA – 4 June
Birmingham, GBR – 7 June
Oslo, NOR – 11 June
New York, USA – 13 June
Paris, FRA – 4 July
Lausanne, SUI – 9 July
Monaco, MON – 17 July
London, GBR – 24-25 July
Stockholm, SWE – 30 July
Zurich, SUI – 3 September
Brussels, BEL – 11 September