The Wanda Diamond League Call Room lockdown series continues today (13) with its Paris edition, with Olympic 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk, 2012 Olympic pole vault champion Renaud Lavillenie and Commonwealth pole vault champion Alysha Newman taking the stage on the Diamond League's Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Speaking about his injury trauma of the past two years, Van Nierkerk explained he is “100% ready” to return to action when lockdown lifts.
"There were days when I couldn’t walk,” said the 400m world record-holder, who has been out of action with a knee injury since 2017. "I have learned to differentiate between bad pain when I am on the brink of injuring myself and pain where I just need a day or two of rest and recovery.
“I had to learn to listen to my body more, and I thank my coaches for listening to me when I am in that situation. You get a lot of coaches who would have pushed athletes through that pain, but my team was very patient.”
Lavillenie, a regular competitor at the Meeting de Paris, said that the coronavirus crisis and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics has allowed him to shake off his injury troubles.
“Having a year off is not that bad for me,” said the former world record-holder. “I'm happy to say I have no more injury, no more pain, for the first time in three years.”
The seven-time Diamond League champion said that he is now able to focus on building up to a single, triumphant performance in Tokyo next year.
“My goal is not to jump high every competition, but just to jump high one time," he said. "I'm trying to change course and focus on Tokyo."
Fellow pole vaulter Newman said that winning a Diamond League final is one of the biggest goals of her career.
“Winning the Diamond Trophy has always been a No.1 goal for me,” said Newman, who broke her own Canadian record when winning in Paris last year with 4.82m. Looking back on that performance, she said she was hungry for more success.
“I want more now," she said. "You set your goals high, you accomplish those goals and then you want more.”