Three Diamond League Meetings all in one week, some thoughts...

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The Diamond League season took off, once again, 12 days after the end of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Throughout the pandemic, the Diamond League has managed to find a way to provide fans a sport outlet, safely featuring our sport.

In 2021, after watching 18 days and nights of mostly near-empty facilities in Tokyo, we have seen good crowds in Eugene, Lausanne, and Paris.

Here are 3 quick thoughts on what each meet brought back to us, and why we should be grateful for 2021, as it builds to 2022 and 3 global championships (Worlds, Commonwealth Games, and European Championships).

Hayward_Field-start-USATFgp21w.jpgHayward Field, May 2021, photo by Kevin Morris / Kevmofoto

1. Nike Pre Classic, August 20-21, 2021. As the first Diamond League meeting after the Tokyo Olympics and the only DL meeting in North America, the Nike Pre Classic has been the yearly litmus test by which most key observers judge the commitment of Nike to the sport. Nike is the largest supporter of global athletics in sports marketing.

082121_PreClassicDay1100088.JPGJakub Ingebrigtsen takes the Bowerman Mile, photo by How Lao Photography

The 2021 Nike Pre Classic provided answers to many of the questions. Each race in Eugene had tremendous fields, as they had over the past 3 decades. This year, the Nike Pre team dealt with managing fields while juggling travel, visas, and pandemic issues. For the first time in three years, Nike hosted the Nike Pre Classic in its iconic home, the new Hayward Field. How anyone could think that Nike was cutting back on athletics while building a $280 million state-of-the-art stadium is fascinating.

2. Athletissima, Lausanne, Switzerland, August 26, 2021. Held in the Pontaise stadium, the Athletissima in 2021 had a fully involved Swiss crowd, who enjoyed world-class performances, plus a finish that could not have been better executed. As the Swiss crowd screamed, the Swiss women's 4x100m held off Team GBR until the last meters, giving the fans a thrilling end to an amazing 3 hours of elite athletics. What is exciting about this meeting?

240671175_6344814552210352_4913604581684253023_n.jpgShelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce stretching just before her 10.60! photo by Diamond League AG

The Athletissima meet begins with regional events, a series of events that showcase the young talent of Switzerland. It builds up so that fans can watch the best field events and track events, featuring global athletes and the pride of Switzerland. In the stadium Pontaise, the idea of a 3 ring circus is clearly illustrated, and the Swiss crowd, in the city that hosts the headquarters of the Olympic movement and European Athletics, gets a yearly affirmation on how great the sport truly is!

In 2021, in this second year of the pandemic, like the Nike Pre Classic, the Lausanne Athletissima fulfills an important need: a little break, just 3 hours in sports exhilaration, at a time when the reality of modern life is so unseemly, this time to run, jump and throw was needed.

3. Meeting de Paris, Paris, France (Stade Charlety), August 28, 2021.

The Meeting De Paris is the tenth Diamond League meeting in 2021. In a normal year, which we have not had in 3 years, the Meeting de Paris is held in July (many years, around the 4th of July. For many years, the meet was held in Stade de France.

Now held in the Stade de Charlety, the Meeting de Paris gives 10,000-15,000 French fans (this year, 10,000 fans) a chance to enjoy a full schedule of fine events with the best in the world and finest French athletes. In a stadium where both mask-wearing and non-masked fans were seen, the crowds by the pole vault and the triple jump were truly enthusiastic.

MDP2021-Felix_ok.jpgAllyson Felix poster for Meeting de Paris

The third meet in one week just reinforced to global fans that the sport that kept them sane during the height of the pandemic with a garden pole vault, continues to find ways, respecting local ordinances, to provide meets that enthrall, entertain and captivate (well, besides that strange DL approach to field events). In Paris, in a wonderfully French perspective (face it, France has a killer track TV show), the Meeting de Paris continues to shine, as we head towards the next Olympic Games, Paris 2024.

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