11 June, 2018

Paris: Flat Out In The Hurdles

SPEED IN PARIS. The slogan for the 2018 edition of the MEETING de PARIS, on Saturday 30 June at the Charléty Stadium, is not just about the sprint competition. Indeed, the hurdles events promise to be just as quick and explosive, with the hurdlers gunning for the best times in the world this season. Equally, the dizzying heights of the continental records may also fall.

The 400m hurdles are set to be coloured by a generational clash. On the one hand, the hotheadedness of youth. World Champion in London and 2017 hopeful, Karsten Warholm is on form. The young Norwegian has run a sub-48'' time twice this season, securing a national record along the way (47''81 in Stockholm). He has Stéphane Diagana’s European record (47''37 in 1995) in the back of his mind. In Paris, he’ll be up against another of the season’s big players, Abderrahman Samba. From Qatar, the athlete took up this discipline just two years ago, but he’s already showing phenomenal potential. Winner in Stockholm yesterday in 47''41, Samba treated himself to a new Asian record and the IAAF Diamond League record. Competing against him will be the experienced Kerron Clement, 32, one of the sport’s legends and Olympic champion in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. The MEETING de PARIS record, which has been held since 1986 by Edwin Moses in 47''66, could well tumble on 30 June!

With the men’s 110m hurdles, it’ll be vital not to miss the start of the meeting, as the show will kick off with the heats (19:19 and 19:28hrs). The density of the line-up is such that the slightest error could well cost an athlete a spot in the final (20:53hrs). No fewer than 13 hurdlers boast a personal best of under 13’’30.

Topping the bill is a highly eclectic trio made up of the Russian athlete Sergey Shubenkov, the Spaniard of Cuban origin Orlando Ortega, and the Jamaican Ronald Levy. Sergey Shubenkov is the main force to be reckoned with at the moment. Third in Shanghai to kick off his Diamond League campaign, he’s linked together two successes in three days at Hengelo (13’’23) then Turku (13’’18). Olympic No.2 in Rio, Orlando Ortega has very fond memories of the MEETING de PARIS 2015, where he set a personal best with an impressive time of 12’’94. Enjoying similar success, Ronald Levy, winner in 2017 at the Charléty Stadium ran 13’’05 (RP). The Jamaican has got off to a flying start this season, securing gold at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.

The rest of the line-up offers an equally stellar cast. Among the most notable are the Americans Aries Merritt (12''80 in 2012, WR), Devon Allen (13’’03 in 2016) and Aleec Harris (13’’11 en 2015), as well as the Jamaican Hansle Parchment, winner of the MEETING de PARIS 2014 in 12’’94, his personal best. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and the top French hurdlers could well make the most of the stiff opposition to improve on their times and hunt down their ticket for the European Championships in Berlin. Set to be explosive, the best time in the world this season, currently held by American Grant Holloway in 13’’15, will be seriously under threat.