Pascal Martinot-Lagarde at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League in Eugene (Kirby Lee) © Copyright
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Personal bests – Pascal Martinot-Lagarde

The 2014 110m hurdles Diamond Race winner and European indoor 60m hurdles champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde is among the world’s elite over the barriers.

We caught up with the 23-year-old rising star of French athletics, and the fastest European last year in the 110m hurdles, to talk about some things that have genuine importance to him.

My best achievement in athletics

Undoubtedly, it was breaking the 13-second barrier (which Pascal did for the first, and so far only, time in Monaco last year).

Only 17 men in history have ever done it. It's significant, like the 18-metre barrier in the men’s triple jump, 9.80 in the men’s 100m or six metres in men’s pole vault. It was amazing to finally do it.

My greatest disappointment

For me, it was the 2014 European Championships in Zurich. I'd won four Diamond League meetings going into the championships that year and I also won one Diamond League after, but during these championships I had a bad race in the final. (Pascal finished with the bronze medal behind Russia’s Sergey Shubenkov).

My best friend in athletics

My big brother, Thomas, who is 27 and has a 110m hurdles best of 13.26. I train with him and compete with him. It is a big plus for both of us.

My best rival

I'm hesitating between Aries Meritt, the 2012 Olympic champion, and the Cuban, Orlando Ortega. Both of them are strong. Orlando is regular high performer and an Olympic finalist. Aries has the world record at 12.80 and is now back following a period with injuries. It is always exciting to compete in the same race as both of them.  

The best athlete I've ever seen

Without doubt, it is Usain Bolt. Our sport became more fun since he burst on to the scene at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The best track venue

I can't really choose which is my favourite track. I'm undefeated in Eugene and it was also the scene of my first ever Diamond League victory, in 2014. I set my French record of 12.95 in Monaco and broke the 13-second barrier for the first time in that race.

Last but not least, I have run a personal best two times in the past that I have raced at the Stade de France in Paris (Pascal ran 13.12 in 2013 and 13.05 in 2014). It is a special meeting for me because I'm at home.

The best piece of coaching advice

I have received two important pieces of coaching advice which have been aimed at improving my technique.

The first is that my shoulder should always be out in front and the second is that the first steps out of the starting block must be in the middle of the lane and not veering too much to the left or the right.

My greatest weakness

My start is probably my weakness. It is such an important element to get right.

The best pre-competition song

Wings by the American hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis is what I like to play ahead of a big race.

My greatest indulgence

Food, of course. I have fallen in love with a typical French breakfast of hot chocolate milk and toasted bread with butter and strawberry jam.

Steve Landells for the IAAF