Renaud Lavillenie wins again at the Paris Diamond League (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
Usain Bolt today confirmed that he won’t be competing on 5 July at the 2014 edition of the Meeting Areva, the French stage of the IAAF Diamond League, due to inflammation of his foot.
It is an injury that has hampered him for much of the spring. “As reported a few weeks ago I had to miss some training in late March and early April due to a foot injury,” said the multiple world and Olympic champion and world record-holder.
“Thankfully my foot is 100% healthy now and I am back in full training. Unfortunately due to the training that I missed I am behind where I am at normally at this time of year and will not be ready to race in the Ostrava Golden Spike meet or the Meeting Areva in Paris. These are great events that I have competed in many times in the past and I plan to run in many times in the future. I have a lot of support in both countries and always get a good reception there.”
In Bolt’s absence, the organisers have put together a great line-up. The full international field will be revealed nearer the time, but the top French stars were announced today.
Topping the bill is Renaud Lavillenie. The Olympic pole vault champion has made his annual bid for victory at the Stade de France a speciality. This year, he’ll appear in front of a French audience for the first time since breaking the world record with his indoor 6.16m clearance.
In addition to a third European title, Lavillenie has this year set himself the goal of dominating the Diamond Race once again. Undefeated this season, he leads this year’s world lists with a jump of 5.92m. In Paris, he’ll be aiming to at least match the meeting record of 6.00m.
Lavillenie will be performing in front of a home crowd twice in one week as a demonstration event will be held on Saturday 28 June, on a legendary site at the heart of the French capital. The competition will be in line with the tradition of shows presented by the discipline in the late 70s and early 80s; a homage to the prestigious school of French pole vaulting.
The 110m hurdles has been added to the Meeting Areva programme so that world leader and world indoor silver medallist Pascal Martinot-Lagarde can face USA’s world champion David Oliver. The Stade de France has a special appeal to Martinot-Lagarde and Oliver as both athletes set their PBs there.
World indoor long jump champion Eloyse Lesueur leaped 6.87m in Eugene for her second-best ever outdoor jump. She will be aiming for a strong performance in Paris as she builds towards the defence of her European title later this year.
In the men’s 100m, the two fastest French men in history will face each other. Jimmy Vicaut, who ran 9.95 earlier this season, will take on European champion Christophe Lemaitre in what could act as something of a preview for this year’s European Championships.
European under-23 champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse was one of the French revelations of last summer. After opening his 2014 campaign with a 1:44.44 clocking in Eugene, Bosse will be one of the biggest domestic attractions at the Meeting Areva.
World 100m hurdles finalist Cindy Billaud produced the second-fastest time of her career with her 12.69 clocking in Rome this week. At the Meeting Areva she hopes to achieve her long-term goal of breaking Monique Ewanje-Epee’s French record of 12.56, set in 1990.
Since winning the world silver medal last year, discus thrower Melina Robert-Michon has taken on a whole new status in French athletics, which has coincided with a great boost in her confidence. A familiar face at the Paris meeting, she dreams of adding her name to the list of winners.
Organisers for the IAAF
2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 9 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
Eugene, USA – 31 May
Rome, ITA – 5 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun
New York, USA – 14 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep