Focus of attention on Martinot-Lagarde and Mayer in Paris

Pascal Martinot-Lagarde
Getty Images

Pascal Martinot-Lagarde will be looking for his second victory at the Meeting de Paris Indoor on Sunday (2)

A compact but busy season of continental indoor athletics begins on Sunday (2) evening with the Meeting de Paris Indoor, the first of 14 European Athletics Indoor Permit Meetings to take place across the next four weeks. The full calendar can be found here.

The Meeting de Paris Indoor takes place at the AccorHotels Arena and the organisers are expecting up to 10,000 spectators to attend this year’s event. The meeting is headlined by some of the standout names of French athletics, including European 110m hurdles champion Pascal Martinot-Lagarde who will be defending that title in the same city in late August.

Martinot-Lagarde has a long-standing affiliation with this venue, finishing fifth in the 60m hurdles on his debut at the French Indoor Championships a decade ago when he was 18. The venue has since been modified to showcase the sprints, sprint hurdles and jumps and the Frenchman is excited to begin his season at one of his favourite indoor venues.

“This is a show, the only place where I find this sort of atmosphere with the audience so close. It’s heart-warming and it gives me an adrenaline rush,” said Martinot-Lagarde, who won this meeting in 2017 in 7.51.

Martinot-Lagarde will face not only a strong French contingent but also Great Britain’s Andrew Pozzi, the reigning world indoor champion. Pozzi also won the European indoor title in 2017 by 0.01 from Martinot-Lagarde to deny the Frenchman back-to-back titles.

The line-up also features world indoor bronze medallist Aurel Manga and world decathlon record-holder Kevin Mayer who competes for the first time since the World Athletics Championships in Doha where an Achilles injury forced him to retire during the pole vault.

Mayer is planning a low-key indoor season ahead of an elongated outdoor campaign which will begin in the United States in early April. The Frenchman recently revealed he will try and attain the Olympic qualifying standard of 8350 points for Tokyo 2020 in Athens, Georgia on 3-4 April.

The focus of attention in the 60m hurdles from a European standpoint will be on three-time European champion Alina Talay from Belarus who endeavours to return to form after an injury-ravaged 2019 campaign. Talay faces a strong American contingent including Christina Clemons, the joint sixth fastest 60m hurdler of all-time with a lifetime best of 7.73.

Former world and European indoor champion Richard Kilty from Great Britain and Spain’s Yunier Perez - both of whom have lifetime bests of 6.49 - will be in action over 60m against last year’s winner Arthur Gue Cisse from the Ivory Coast while Kiara Parker from the United States is the fastest entrant for the women’s 60m with a 7.15 PB.

One of the strongest events of the programme is the women’s pole vault featuring three of the top six finishers from the World Athletics Championships: Holly Bradshaw from Great Britain, Angelica Bengtsson from Sweden and Canada’s Alysha Newman. French record-holder Ninon Guillon-Romarin also competes along with Eleni-Klaudia Polak from Greece who has already improved her lifetime best from 4.50m to 4.65m this season.

The men’s triple jump features six competitors with 17 metre-plus lifetime bests including the French-based African record-holder Fabrice Hugues Zango who won last year’s meeting with a world indoor leading mark of 17.58m. 

Reigning European indoor champion Nazim Babayev from Azerbaijan is also in action along with former European champion Benjamin Compaore from France.

Full start-lists can be found here