The big changes at the Meeting de Paris are a move from Stade de France to Stade Charlety. Crowd was good but media coverage was down as was media attenance. Garfield Darien was there, as was Renaud Lavillenie, but several of the French stars were injured, from Jimmy Vicaut to Christophe Lemaitre.
The meet is one of my favorites, as big performances begin in this meet, as the athletes build, a month out from London 2017. The Meeting de Paris has the BEST press conferences on the circuit: a combination of 15-30 minutes per interview group, in French and English, and 10-12 athlete interviews in the day before the meeting. The Sam Kendricks and Renaud Lavillenie was one of the best, but there were serveral interviews that absolutely rocked. Ronald Levy surprised many in the 110 meter hurdles, and Nijel Amos showed his return to fitness as part of the Meeting de Paris. The Paris DL showed that the combination of national and global events bring a crowd and keep the enthusiam up!
Here are five lessons, in no order, that I learned in Paris.
1. The women’s steeplechase has drama each and every race! In the Paris steeplechase, Beatrice Chepkoech, Celliphine Chespoel and Ruth Jebet have been battling all season, with Emma Coburn in hot pursuit. Hyvin Hyeng, who was World Champion in 2015, and silver medalist in 2016 Rio, ran well in Paris. In the crowded final laps, Ruth Jebet hit a barrier hard with three laps to go, and while she finished in fourth, she was obviously hurt. How will that affect Ruth Jebet, the WR holder and Olympic gold medalist in London 2017? We will just have to wait.
2. Has Sifan Hassan found a way to beat Faith Kipyegen? Halimah Nakiya took the field through 60.95 and 2:05.70 and Sifan Hassan was off! Sifan pushed through 3:11.45 at 1200 meters and just hammered the last 300 meters, pushing Faith Kipyegon to second, in 3:57.51, to Sifan Hassan’s 3:57.51. In third, running her PB was Gudaf Tsegay, in 3:59.55! Hassan has run a NR at 5000 meters at Pre Classic, and several very fast 1,500 meters. Hassan wants the 1,500 meters very bad. Will this, full speed ahead, run them all off their feet work in London 2017? We will just have to wait and see!
3. Who can beat Muktar Edris? The Ethiopian likes to run very fast. He ran 13:01.4 in Boston at the adidas Games on June 2. On June 11, Muktar ran 27:20.6 for fifth in Hengelo. His 7:32.31 and win in Paris showed that Muktar in shape can run with the best of them. Edris was sixth in his first 3000 meters at Doha this season, and raced himself into shape.
4. The men’s Pole vault will be a battle with Sam Kendricks and Renaud Lavillenie. Sam Kendricks won the PV at Pre Classic, USATF Champs and now, Paris. He has also cleared six meters for the first time in Sacramento. Renaud Lavillenie is coming back into fitness very quickly. Lavillenie, the world record holder, has had injuries since November. Kendricks and Lavillenie bring the best out in each other. Their competition in Eugene also showcased the new talent, Mondo Duplantis in the event. Note that Raphael Holzdeppe, the 2013 World Champion is someone who has had two tough years, but has the ability to put his jumping together at the right time. The level of the men’s pole vault is such that there will be surprises, and Olympic Champion Da Silva is back at home training for London 2017.
5. Elaine Thompson continues to impress. Elaine Thompson is focused on the 100 meters this season, and her win in Paris, at 10.91, showed that she is rounding into shape. Marie Jose Ta-Lou continues to impress and should be in the battle over 100 meters and 200 meters. Tori Bowie of US is only running one race in London, as is Thompson. The 200 meters is quite open right now, but the 100 meters looks to be as competitive as ever.