The Meeting Hauts de France, the sixth event in the World Athletics Indoor Series was a superb event. The arena was great; the sell-out crowd was loud and enthusiastic. The program was near perfect. British sprinter, Asha Philip, caught the mood perfectly when she described her experience of running the 60m: “There was a great atmosphere with so much going on – the men’s triple jump, women’s long jump and pole vault. And, of course, then it goes quiet for your race”. Other athletes said that they were inspired by the crowd. Mondo Duplantis commented: “I loved the crowd’s energy” and “The crowd was on its feet and yelling, which I love and I know Sam [Kendricks] loves too. It was a very special place to jump tonight”. The athletes responded by posing for selfies or just chatting to spectators after their competition.
I wrote in another post that races were almost a distraction from the amazing program of field events. Of course, that was not true as there were several gripping races but who would begrudge the field-eventers their turn in center stage. It was, as Asha said, “brilliant to have three different field event disciplines taking place simultaneous.” It was a stroke of genius to have men’s and women’s pole vault happening simultaneously. The event struck it lucky that both Duplantis and Sandi Morris were going for a World Record, but they deserved it. Duplantis commented that “it was really cool that us pole-vaulters got to show why our event is so special. Morris said that the parallel world record attempts was “probably something I’ll never get to experience again”. When athletes are saying “It so special to be part of it” (Sandi Morris), you know you have got something right! All that was lacking from the pole vault event was the presence of Renaud Lavillenie.
The hurdles races were special. The crowd certainly enjoyed Pascal Martinot-Lagarde’s victory. He is such a showman as well as being a great athlete. It did his popularity no harm that he is also French! In the women’s race Nia Ali beat Christina Clemons but both recorded the same time of 7.92. There were two 800m races, always exciting with the tight bends and more athletes than lanes, two 1500s, a 1000m and a 3000m, not to mention the two 60m events – each with two prelims and a final.
There was also a 2000m steeplechase – without a water jump. I texted a British steeple-chaser that I was watching a 2000m SC without a water-jump. She replied: “That sounds like my kind of steeplecase!”
For sheer excitement, I cannot recall a better meet.