Christophe Lemaitre wins the 200m at the DecaNation meeting in Marseille (© AFP / Getty Images)
All six of France’s medallists from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games were out in force at the Stade Delort in Marseille on Tuesday (13) for the annual DecaNation competition as the hosts won the overall team title for the first time in eight years.
This year the participating teams were France, NACAC (Americas), China, Ukraine, Japan and a mixed international team. Despite some strong performances from Olympic medallists on the NACAC team, France eventually won with a six-point margin, 115 to 109.
Olympic bronze medallist Christophe Lemaitre bagged maximum points for France in the 200m. Running in lane six, Lemaitre won by a comfortable margin in 20.23 (-0.4m/s), finishing a few metres ahead of Japan’s Shota Hara and USA’s triple NCAA champion Jarrion Lawson.
“I’ve finished my season on a high note,” said Lemaitre. “I’m pleased to have contributed to the good result of the French team. It’s nice to be consistent in running good times at this stage of the season. With a bit more competition, I may have been able to go quicker, but I’m not going to complain.”
Olympic silver medallists Renaud Lavillenie and Kevin Mayer were both in action in the pole vault. Unusually for Lavillenie, he opened his series at the relatively low height at 5.00m. Mayer, who finished second in the decathlon in Rio, needed three attempts to clear that bar but wasn’t able to go higher.
Lavillenie later came under pressure as he failed twice at 5.70m with compatriot Stanley Joseph and Japan’s Seito Yamamoto still in the competition. The world record-holder got over it on his third try, though, while his opponents couldn’t manage it. Lavillenie went on to clear 5.80m before ending his series with three misses at 5.90m.
“The main aim of the evening was to have fun and to please the public,” said Lavillenie. “The conditions weren’t great, but I’m very happy to finish with a jump of 5.80m. This competition allowed us to interact more with the French fans who follow us every day and who are our biggest supporters.”
Mayer, who was warming up for this weekend’s Decastar meeting in Talence, also competed in the shot. He threw 14.40m to finish seventh in a competition won by Olympic champion Ryan Crouser. The US thrower produced a best of 20.61m, having earlier finished second in the discus with 59.13m.
European champion Dimitri Bascou won the 110m hurdles by exactly half a second. The Olympic bronze medallist stopped the clock at 13.24 to secure another valuable victory for France.
Compatriot Melina Robert-Michon was also a clear winner. The Olympic silver medallist led the discus from the outset and produced her best mark, 61.40m, in the third round.
“Knowing that it was my last competition of the season, that made all the difference,” said Robert-Michon. “I wanted to do well in front of the Marseille public.”
The NACAC team picked up top marks in the women’s 400m and men’s 100m. NCAA champion Courtney Okolo clocked 51.06 over one lap of the track, while Asafa Powell battled a stiff -1.9m/s headwind to win the 100m in 10.20.
One of the biggest surprises of the night came in the men’s 2000m, where Japan’s national 1500m champion Masaki Toda finished more than a second ahead of three-time Olympic steeplechase medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi, 5:14.39 to 5:16.05. Toda built up a big gap early on in the race, but the rest of the field left it too late before trying to make up the deficit.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF