World record-holder Renaud Lavillenie captured his eighth outdoor domestic title at the French Championships which took place in the southwest city of Albi and concluded on Sunday (8) after three days of action.
Lavillenie went over his opening height of 5.65m on his second attempt to secure the title before sailing over 5.80m on his first try. Lavillenie, who is currently second on the 2018 world list, then failed three times at 5.90m.
The women’s pole vault was no less exciting. Ninon Guillon-Romarin produced one of the best performances of the weekend when she cleared 4.73m on her second attempt to set an outdoor French record. She ended her series with three missed attempts at 4.78m.
Taking advantage of perfect conditions and a fast track, Carolle Zahi won the women’s 100m in a PB of 11.01 (1.5m/s), taking her to fourth on the French all-time list behind Christine Arron, Marie-Jose Perec and Muriel Hurtis.
“I knew I could run faster than 11.10,” said Zahi, whose previous best was 11.13. “But to actually do it is a bit surprising.”
In second place, Orlann Ombissa’s improvement was even more surprising. Starting the championships with a PB of 11.24, she ran 11.14 in her heat, 11.13 in her semifinal and then 11.06 in the final. Orphee Neola equalled her PB of 11.15 to finish third.
Zahi went on to win the 200m on Sunday with a wind-assisted 22.92 (3.6m/s).
Following his 9.91 clocking earlier this year, sprinter Jimmy Vicaut was one of the most anticipated athletes of the weekend. But after a modest 10.35 in the 100m heats, the European record-holder withdrew from the competition as a precaution, having felt a slight strain in his adductor.
In his absence, Ivory Coast’s Arthur Gue Cisse won the final in 10.04 (1.6m/s) from Iran’s Hassan Taftian (10.09). Marvin Rene was the top French finisher, placing third in 10.18, and so clinched the domestic title.
After equalling his PB of 10.07 in the heats, Amaury Golitin was disqualified from the final for a false start.
Vicaut wasn’t the only athlete who had to contend with injury worries. Olympic 200m bronze medallist Christophe Lemaitre withdrew from the championships after tearing his hamstring at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris.
Double European champion Antoinette Nana Djimou pulled out of the heptathlon during the high jump event after tearing her calf muscle. Both Nana Djimou and Lemaitre won’t compete at the European Championships in Berlin next month.
In Nana Djimou’s absence, Esther Turpin won her first national heptathlon title with 6100, just 130 points short of her personal best.
Bosse beaten but best of Les Bleus
World champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse led the 800m in about 51 seconds at the bell. He slowed down in the final straight and was passed by Kenya’s Sammy Kirongo, who won in 1:46.21. But, as the best of the French entrants, Bosse clinched his fourth domestic title in 1:46.66.
“It’s tough to be beaten in the last metres, but the main thing is to be national champion,” said Bosse.
As part of his preparation for the European Championships, world decathlon champion had originally entered three individual events at the French Championships. Eventually he decided against competing in the pole vault and 1500m, and instead focused on the discus, throwing 48.16m.
Multiple Olympic medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi sprinted away from the field on the last lap of the 3000m steeplechase to comfortably beat Djilali Bedrani, 8:33.59 to 8:35.27. 2014 European champion Yohann Kowal was third in 8:35.71.
“To be national champion is an honour,” said Mekhissi. “It was a real test and it bodes well for Berlin.”
Pascal Martinot-Lagarde succeeded in the 110m hurdles in 13.33 (2.4m/s) with a slight margin over Garfield Darien (13.35).
Alexandra Tavernier produced a consistent series to clinch the hammer title with a best of 73.72m, 32 centimetres shy of her season’s best.
“I’m very pleased,” said the 2015 world bronze medallist. “My performances get better and better, although I had a little head stroke.”
Quentin Bigot, fourth at the World Championships last year, won the men’s competition with 74.23m.
Rénelle Lamote fulfilled her status of favourite to prevail in the 800m. The 2015 world finalist crossed the line in 2:00.37 to finish 0.23 ahead of Cynthia Anais, who clocked the exact qualifying standard for the European Championships. Claudia Saunders completed the podium with 2:01.07.
Jeanine Assani-Issouf leapt a PB of 14.43m to win the triple jump, moving her to second on this year’s European list.
Elsewhere, Floria Gueï improved her season's best to 51.52 to win the 400m. Awa Sene dominated the 100m hurdles in a wind-assisted 13.04 while 2014 European silver medallist Cindy Billaud finished fourth in 13.20.
Harold Correa won the triple jump with a last-round effort of 17.05m. Ruben Gado succeeded in the decathlon with a PB of 8126 while the 400m hurdles title went to Ludvy Vaillant in 49.04.
Teddy Tamgho last competed at the 2016 French Championships, where he won the triple jump with 17.15m but also fractured his fibula. The 2013 world triple jump champion had been out of action since then, but he returned to action on Saturday and took part in the qualifying round of the long jump.
The 29-year-old produced a best of 6.92m and didn’t advance to the final, but he was simply happy to be back on the runway.
“Feeling the atmosphere of a competition again is a great pleasure,” said Tamgho, who hopes to qualify in the long jump for the European Championships. “I was too calm and too much of a spectator on my two first leaps.”
Quentin Guillon for the IAAF