Following the short mid-season break after Stockholm, the IAAF Diamond League (DL) continues in Paris on Saturday, June 30th, as 25 athletes have already booked their tickets to the finals in Zurich and Brussels at the end of August.
Already this year, there have been several record-breaking performances, a clutch of intense rivalries developing, and several new stars emerging on the world level.
Here’s what to expect at the 2018 edition of the Meeting de Paris
The men’s 100m in the Diamond League this season has been one of the most unpredictable, with the last two DL competitions in the event producing different winners.
Ronnie Baker, who won last time out in Oslo is the favorite going into Paris after the American set a new Personal Best (PB) of 9.90s at the US trials just over a week ago. However, he will have to contend with the recently crowned Commonwealth Games Champion, Akani Simbine as well as 2011 World Champion, Yohan Blake.
Marie Josee Ta Lou will once again lace her spikes to run the women’s 200m.The Ivorian Sprinter who has been imperious in the 100m this season has so far accumulated 13 points in the event, and a win might seal her spot in the finals, depending on where Shericka Jackson places in the race.
NCAA 400m hurdles champion Rai Benjamin and 400m champion Michael Norman will make their professional debuts in Paris. They will both contest the non-Diamond League 200m in which they will face European champions Churandy Martina and Bruno Hortelano and Ecuador’s Alex Quinonez, who has run 19.93 this year.
The rivalry between Salwa Eid Naser and Phyllis Francis in the women’s 400m is gradually heating up, as it would be ignited once again in Paris. Despite not starting the season early, Eid Naser has so far clawed her way up to 2nd on the DL standings, as she sits just 5 points behind Francis who has so amassed 21 points.
She achieved all these after clinching victory ahead of Francis in both Oslo and Stockholm, with the win in the latter seeing her set a new National Record (NR) of 49.85s
Having surged to fame and glory last season, Norwegian hurdler Karsten Warholm has been outshone by the man of the moment Abderrahman Samba so far this season, the Qatari breaking the Diamond League record on no less than three occasions.
Despite remaining in Samba’s shadow, Warholm has still broken his PB and has kept within a few strides of the Qatari on multiple occasions, as the two rising stars push each other to ever further heights. They do battle again in Paris, with Warholm needing just a few more points to bag his place in the Final.
In the other hurdling Diamond Discipline, a host of superstars will slug it out, as the likes of Orlando Ortega, Diamond Trophy holder Sergey Shubenkov and Aries Merritt descend on the French capital.
For Shubenkov and Ortega, who are currently second and third in the standings, this is a chance to secure their place in the final.
Like in the last two women’s 800m race, Caster Semenya is poised to extend her winning streak in the event once again. A win for the South African will all but seal her place in the finals.
However, the usual chasing pack, led by Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba and American, Ajee Wilson will both have another go at trying to upset the recently crowned Commonwealth Champion.
For Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng, another victory might be in the offing as she competes in the women’s 3000m Steeplechase. However, she should still be weary of the threat posed by her compatriot, Celliphine Chespol.
The competition in the women’s Triple Jump is shaping up to be a unique face-off between the queen of the discipline, Colombian Caterine Ibarguen, GOLD medallist at the Rio Games in 2016, double world champion (2013 and 2015), and the discipline’s latest sensation, American Tori Franklin.
Franklin created a stir in Doha last May by clearing 14.84m, securing the United States record and best performance in the world this year. It’s also worth noting the presence in the competition of the reigning world champion, Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas and Olga Rypakova, bronze medallist in London will also spice things up.
In the women’s High Jump, Mariya Lasitskene has not suffered a defeat in 43 consecutive competitions. It’s a series which the double reigning world champion fully intends to continue at the Charléty Stadium and she’s also aiming to improve on her best performance of the season (2.03m).
After winning a first Diamond League meeting and also beating Sam Kendricks for the first time in Stockholm, young Armand Duplantis is beginning to prove how good he is in the men’s pole vault.
However, he not only faces Kendricks in Paris, but also his childhood hero Renaud Lavillenie. Both Duplantis and Lavillenie are currently on eight points and looking to shoot up the rankings in order to secure a place in the Final.