What: Herculis 2012 International Athletics
Where: Stade Louis II, 7 Avenue des Castelans
When: Friday 20 July, 7pm to 10pm.
The 26th Herculis International Athletics competition, which takes place in Monaco on 20 July, is the last stage in the Samsung Diamond League. Cities around the world from the US, Asia, Europe and the Middle East host this major sporting series throughout the year, and Monaco frequently produces one of the most memorable competitions, with multiple world records clocked up in the Louis II stadium over recent years.
The final such meet before the London Olympic Games, this year’s Herculis will feature some of the world’s most exceptional sportsmen and women, among them Jeremy Wariner and reigning Olympic champion Lashawn Merritt (400m), Dayron Robles (110m hurdles), Andreas Thorkidsen (javelin), and Caster Semenya (800m).
Interviewed last week, Olympic pole vault champion (and, at 5.06m, the current world record holder) Yelena Isinbaeva spoke of her fondness for Monaco: “It is a very good track, fast and soft. I love to compete here and want to do my best.” What makes the competition special for her, she added, is that she has many supporters in Monaco. “I especially want to perform well for the Prince,” she smiled. “My strongest rival is myself – I always want to beat my personal best. I want to get higher than 4.85m in Monaco. To win at the Olympics I will need to go over 5 metres, so I am training very hard and I am focused for London!”
The evening comprises sixteen track and field events: nine disciplines for men (200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, 110m hurdles, high jump, long jump and javelin), and seven for women (100m, 800m, 3000m, 400m hurdles, pole vault, triple jump and discus).
One sadness for athletics fans is the last-minute withdrawal of Usain Bolt, who was scheduled to participate in the 200m. An injury in a recent training session has meant that any hopes of a final tune-up for the Olympics here on the Riviera are out of the question; so the next time we will see him will be when he defends his world records in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in London.