Bolt, Powell, Lemaitre: a majestic 100 m at the Meeting AREVA

News brief

Rumours have given way to certainty now and Usain Bolt will indeed be at the Stade de France, on Friday 16th July 2010, for the MEETING AREVA. Yesterday the Jamaican athlete officially gave his consent to the organisers of the meeting in Île de France, which will host the ninth stage of the brand new Diamond League. Like last year, he will take the start of the 100 m, a distance over which he is the world record holder (9’’58), with a score of world and Olympic titles to his credit. Last July, during his first ever performance in the Stade de France, the chilly conditions and rain prevented him from teasing out his best time. However, he still lit up the evening with a time of 9’’79, which was a real tour de force given the extent of the unfavourable conditions.

This season, the sprinter’s schedule will give top priority to the Diamond League meetings. Indeed the Jamaican intends to benefit from each one of his performances to throw the stopwatches into turmoil. However, he’s not spreading himself too thin. The 100 m at the MEETING AREVA could be his first race over the distance in Europe. “His potential remains an enigma; nobody knows what he’s capable of, explains Laurent Boquillet, head of the Paris meeting. He is in a class of his own, but his presence should electrify the rest of the race. We may see other athletes benefit from the high pace to score some very big times.”

At the Stade de France, Usain Bolt won’t be the only star attraction in the 100 m. Alongside him will be two other sprint phenomena, who the public will be curious to see perform: Asafa Powell, the Jamaican, and Christophe Lemaitre, the French athlete.

The former, Asafa Powell, can boast that he was responsible for “Lightning Bolt’s” last defeat over the distance. It took place at the meeting in Stockholm in 2008. The last 100 m world record holder before Usain Bolt took power (9’’77 in 2005, 9’’74 in 2007), the Jamaican has often revealed a flaky mental state in the big competitions. However, he remains a fantastic sprinter in the one-night events. He is also certainly one of the few athletes, along with American Tyson Gay, capable of driving Usain Bolt into a corner. To date Asafa Powell has run the 100 m sixty times in ten seconds or under, which is a record in itself.

For Christophe Lemaitre, the MEETING AREVA will be a first in more ways than one. The junior European champion and recordman in the 100 m (10’’04), who will be celebrating his 20th birthday just a few weeks prior to the event, has still never raced on the Stade de France track. He has never competed against Asafa Powell either. Furthermore, his only confrontation with Usain Bolt, last year at the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne, took place in the 200 m.

 “I’m keen to get to the Stade de France, he assured. I’m finally going to be able to run in the biggest stadium in France, in front of a home crowd, against the best runners in the world. For me, this race is a very important part of my running season. I’ll have already competed in several 100 ms so I’ll be ready. I’ve got high hopes for my time. In the 100 m at the MEETING AREVA I see a fantastic opportunity to express my potential and discover what I’m really made of against the world’s top sprinters.”

Undefeated indoors this season, the athlete from Aix-les-Bains has made the most of the winter to improve his 60 m times (6’’55, French record 18-20yrs) and 200 m (20’’83). Just weeks away from the European Championships, this meeting could have a decisive influence on the young French athlete.