A crowd of 42,154 flocked to the Stade de France for the sixth MEETING AREVA on Saturday evening and were treated to some excellent entertainment. With weather conditions (22°C and 60% humidity) just about perfect, the stage was set for some first-class performances, and they duly arrived in the shape of two new MEETING AREVA records (courtesy of Sandra Perkovic in the women’s discuss and Hiwot Ayalew in the women’s 3000m steeplechase), five world bests of the year and three national records. On the downside, however, the Stade de France will have to wait at least another year before seeing its first world record. There could be no questioning the commitment of the athletes, however, as they gave their all in this the eight meeting on the 2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar.
A few months on from breaking the legendary pole vault world record, France’s Renaud Lavillenie was unable to give the home crowd the performance they had been hoping for. With the wind swirling around the stadium, he had to content himself with a vault of 5.70m, though it was still enough for victory. Lavillenie was not the only French winner at the Stade de France this evening, with Eloyse Lesueur and Benjamin Compaore landing surprise victories in the women’s long jump and the men’s triple jump respectively. Compaore even took the opportunity to beat the qualifying standard for next month’s European Championships in Zurich. While much was expected of home sprinter Christophe Lemaitre, he came home last in a men’s 100m race won in ten seconds flat by Michael Rodgers, though Lemaitre could at least console himself with his fastest time in the event this season. Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (800m), Melina Robert-Michon (discus), Cindy Billaud (100m hurdles) and Myriam Soumare (200m) all took creditable fourth places in their events, while Pascal Martinot-Lagarde excelled in posting his personal best in a men’s 110m hurdles race that did not count towards the Diamond League standings.
Vlasic makes her return
As for the international stars on duty, not all the 15 Diamond Race leaders managed to excel, with only four of them winning their events: Okagbare in the women’s 200m, Perkovic in the discus, Lavillenie in the pole vault and Tinsley in the men’s 400m hurdles. The rest all came up short, among them Kovacs in the shot put and Aregawi in the 1500m, though most of them at least pocketed points that prove vital come the end of the season. The fans also witnessed the return of Blanka Vlasic to elite competition in the high jump, which she won with a leap of 2.00m, while there were also first-class performances from Soi in the 5000m, Kiprop in the 800m, Parchment in the 110m hurdles and Sanya Richards-Ross, the queen of women’s 400m. There was so much for the 42,154 crowd to enjoy, in fact, that they are sure to be making a return to the Stade de France for next year’s meeting.