The eleventh leg of the IAAF Diamond League arrives in Stockholm tomorrow evening after a five-week hiatus, as the DN Galan meeting welcomes the world’s finest athletes to the Swedish capital’s 1912 Olympic stadium.
Ahead of their participation in the venue which holds the world record for the arena with the most world records at 83, no less than 18 newly crowned continental champions will compete, and five of the best jump specialists from around the globe spoke to the world’s media this morning.
World indoor pole vault record holder, Renaud Lavillenie is in Stockholm fresh from his third consecutive European outdoor Championships victory in Zurich last week, and the 27-year-old Frenchman is in confident mood:
“5.80m for the gold (in Zurich) was very impressive for me, it was a good competition so I’m very happy,” he explained, “I showed I was in good shape and I want to get back at a high level for the next couple of weeks.”
On his late entry in the continental championship final, Lavillenie continued:
“During the season, I started at 5.60m and I started at 5.76m in Zurich. I don’t get nervous when I start higher, it’s more the weather conditions which make me nervous.
“This summer was very complicated with the wind. When I tried 6.01m in Zurich, I had taken a three-week break to focus on training, I was confident but the wind wasn’t good – I just need to be patient.”
The Olympic and world indoor champion revealed that he would start tomorrow’s competition at either 5.60m or 5.70m depending on the weather.
Unbeaten in his 12 competitions this summer and with a 5.92m season’s best, Lavillenie said:
“I have no problem motivating myself as I have a lot of goals – this year, they were to win Paris and the Euro’s in Zurich, and I want to go over six meters again. I love jumping so it’s no problem to stay motivated.”
Sweden’s 20-year-old Melker Svard-Jakobsson also spoke to the media and the 2011 world youth silver medallist has been in fine form following his 5.60m lifetime best in May:
“This is my first IAAF Diamond League - I feel good and I’m excited for tomorrow,” Svard-Jakobsson explained.
“I had a lot of trouble with my run-up in Zurich (where he failed to qualify for the final) so it was very hard to jump.
“My goal this year is to jump 5.70m so I hope it comes soon. We jump differently but I hope to learn a lot from Lavillenie.”
A trio of female long jumpers also attended the traditional pre-event press conference, with American duo, Tianna Bartoletta and Brittney Reese in addition to local girl, Erica Jarder in attendance.
2005 world champion, Bartoletta has an impressive 7.02m season’s best and has notched up IAAF Diamond League victories in Oslo and Glasgow this season.
The 28-year-old 2006 world indoor champion revealed:
“We’ve had a long stretch without competition so I want to get back into competition mode and I’m expecting it to be a very good competition, it’s the first of many for me on this trip.
“It’s really special to have a break in between competitions and it was nice to go back home, see my family and get in the weights room to build up the strength I lost from travelling around the circuit. It’s like pressing the restart button and I’ve come back stronger in this second half of the season.”
The 2012 4x100m Olympic champion also has a swift 11.18 100m clocking to her name this summer and she continued:
“I’m blessed to be back on the circuit, we will all step onto the runway tomorrow night and try to win – my focus is just on myself and trying to execute my plan as best I can.
“Now, I’m training with Darya Klishina (Russia’s European indoor champion), having changed coach after my last coach moved to the UK. It’s been a tough transition but I take great pride and ownership in my training now.”
Reese, meanwhile, explained the reasons behind her change in technique in 2014:
“I’ve been working on a new approach so I’m more consistent in the run-up and on the board, that’s my main goal, not to foul so much.
“I felt I wasn’t where I needed to be on the runway, I’m the queen of fouling so in a non-championships year, I’ve experimented – so far, it’s been good.
“Now, I do a four-step walk-in ahead of the run-up and now I limit my dip at take-off on the board.”
The 27-year-old Olympic champion, three-time world outdoor champion and two-time world indoor champion has a 6.92m season’s best and said of her visit to Sweden:
“I’m grateful to be here despite the weather but that doesn’t bother me. The crowd’s always great here and I’ll look to use their help tomorrow.”
Stockholm-born Jarder has this year collected European indoor bronze and a 6.67m personal best, and the 28-year-old world finalist spoke of her love of her home city:
“The Stockholm stadium is by far my favourite track and the crowd is always supportive so it’s my favourite competition,” she explained.
“I didn’t get exactly what I wanted out of Zurich, it was very hard but looking back, I’m kind of proud of myself and I’m looking forward to showing what I can do tomorrow.
Felix, Kszczot and deep women’s 1500m field set to sparkle in Stockholm
The Swedish capital of Stockholm greets the world’s finest athletes to the DN Galan meeting tomorrow evening for the eleventh stage of the IAAF Diamond League at the city’s 1912 Olympic stadium.
After a five-week break, the IAAF Diamond League arrives at the venue which holds the world record for the arena with the most world records at 83, as no less than 18 newly crowned continental champions are set to compete.
The crème de la crème of women’s 200m sprinting, women’s 1500m running and of the men’s 800m gathered in front of the world’s media earlier today to speak of their hopes for Thursday.
Three-time world champion and Olympic champion, Allyson Felix continues her return from injury and the 28-year-old American has a fine 22.34 season’s best. The winner in Oslo explained:
“It’s a lot of fun to compete here so I’m happy to be back – I have fond memories of competing here, the crowd is always amazing. There’s a great energy here so I’m excited to return.
“This year was difficult coming off an injury but I’m not pushing more than necessary in this non-championships year in order to come back in top form next summer.
“The training break went well – I got more under my belt having played catch-up all season and I hope to have made solid progress.
“The next three years are intense but my motivation and passion is still there so I’m looking forward to explore which events I’ll focus on, I’m still thoroughly enjoying myself.”
Her US team-mate, Tori Bowie, meanwhile has enjoyed a breakthrough summer with superb 10.80 100m and 22.18 clockings in addition to impressive wins in Eugene over the half-lap and Rome, New York and Monaco in the shorter sprint.
The 23-year-old revealed:
“It’s a blessing, it’s been a fun year and I’m enjoying every moment and I’m using this season to prepare for next year.
“I don’t have any plans or expectations right now, I just go out and execute – I’m still learning how to run correctly, that’s the main focus.”
Bowie – who explained that her improvement is related to switching coaches and moving to Florida – announced that she will aim to compete in the long jump, 100m and 200m in next summer’s IAAF World Championships.
17-year-old Irene Ekelund of Sweden claimed the IAAF World Junior Championships silver medal earlier this season and the world youth champion goes into the competition with a 23.26 season’s best.
“Zurich (the European Championships last week) went great, I was so very was happy with the 200m and we didn’t think we’d make the final of the 4x100m relay but we did.
“There were a lot of good girls to run against, a lot of hard competition and I just tried my best and followed their lead. I just want to run fast and have fun tomorrow night.”
The women’s 1500m is loaded with talent and four of the main protagonists met this morning to discuss the metric mile event.
Newly crowned European champion, Sifan Hassan arrives following a silver medal over 5,000m in Zurich and the 21-year-old Netherlands athlete boasts a 3:57.00 national record from her Paris victory last month in addition to a 14:59.23 personal best in May.
“I’m very happy for my 1500m and 5,000m, I’m getting better in every meeting. Meraf Bahta and I train together as our coaches are friends, I’ happy because we push each other and I’m happy for her 5,000m success in Zurich. I think it will be a very good race tomorrow,” she said.
Sweden’s world indoor and outdoor champion, Abeba Aregawi claimed the 1500m runner-up position in the continental championship and the 24-year-old European indoor champion admitted:
“Here in my home country, I’m happy to be running. I’m not running well these days so I hope to do better here.
“I’m happy it’s going good for them (her rivals) – I had a good time and now they’re coming up, I was a role model.
The USA’s 2011 world champion and 2013 world silver medallist, Jennifer Simpson registered an impressive 3:57.22 lifetime best for second place in Paris and the 27-year-old revealed:
“I’m really happy to be here, Stockholm is a special place to compete - it’s exciting to run here.
“I had time to go home and reflect on my effort in Paris and just train for four weeks – it presented a good opportunity and also a unique challenge as I was just watching the Commonwealth Games and the European and African Championships.
“It’s a high-level field so it’s difficult to choose the winner, as we all bring different strengths to the table. It will be a fun and exciting race for the spectators, the stadium record could potentially go.
“There’s a lot of momentum in the women’s 1500m this season so it’s an exciting event with a great depth of talent. It makes the sport fun as there’s no strong favourite so it’s really hard for us.”
European 5,000m champion, Meraf Bahta of Sweden clocked a 4:03.16 personal best in June, following her 14:59.49 national record in May and the 25-year-old said:
“I was happy to win the gold medal and I look forward to competing with these girls tomorrow. I’ve been training with the guys in St Moritz before coming here to get strong.
“I want to run both the 1500m and 5,000m next year, it’s a good combination for me. I also want to run under or close to four minutes.”
The men’s 800m offers a mouth-watering clash between Poland’s Adam Kszczot and Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti.
Two-time European indoor champion, Kszczot has a swift 1:44.15 season’s best and the 24-year-old world indoor runner-up is aiming for a fast race:
“I was sure I was going for gold (in Zurich) as I prepared specifically and I ran the second lap of the Polish Championships in 51 seconds on my own.
“It was great for Poland to also take the silver medal behind me, I was really surprised when I saw my big lead on the screen, I couldn’t believe it.
“Now, I will try to get my personal best, we will see what happens tomorrow. The training plan was to start the season easy and now I try to find races to go for 1:43.50 and lower.”
Souleiman – the world indoor 1500m champion and world 800m bronze medallist – has focused more on the 1500m and mile events this summer but the 21-year-old has a blistering 1:43.69 season’s best:
“I’m lucky I won the African Championships and I’m in good shape - I’m happy with my season,” he explained.
“I like to change my training between the 800m, 1500m and 3,000m – it’s like food, it depends on what I feel like.”
Sweden’s 19-year-old world junior bronze medallist, Andreas Almgren reached the semi-final stage in Zurich and set a 1:45.65 national junior record in July.
“It is a very special atmosphere here, the crowd goes crazy – it gives me goose-bumps all around my body,” Almgren recalled.
“My goal was to get the bronze medal in Zurich but I did not think I would go sub-1:46 - that was a big surprise to me. I’m just going to try to keep with the pace tomorrow night, anything’s possible.”
Rupp and Coburn the distance delight at the DN Galan
Stockholm’s 1912 Olympic stadium is set to greet the world’s finest track and field athletes to the eleventh leg of the IAAF Diamond League on Thursday evening, as the Swedish capital welcomes world-class athletics to the DN Galan meeting once again.
Following a five-week break, the IAAF Diamond League continues its season-long run as no less than 18 newly crowned continental champions are set to compete in the Stockholm stadium which holds the world record for the arena with the most world records at 83.
Long distance athlete, Galen Rupp and 3,000m steeplechase duo, Emma Coburn and Charlotta Fougberg met the world’s media this afternoon to discuss their summers so far and their aspirations for the event.
USA’s Rupp – the 28-year-old Olympic 10,000m silver medallist – clocked a fine 26:44.36 American 10,000m record in Eugene earlier this season and the world fourth placer had a 13:00.99 season’s best to his name.
“My season started out really well when I set the American record and I had solid runs in Oslo and Paris, then I went back home to get some training in so I’m excited to race in Stockholm,” Rupp explained.
“I surprised myself at Pre (in Eugene) – I knew I was in good shape and my main goal was to work on winning, I felt comfortable and relaxed and I made it a long drive for home from 800m to go. It’s all about committing and I learned a lot tactically from Paris – you can learn that in training.”
On his racing break and the recent new additions to his family, Rupp continued:
“The break worked out well, as it was a good chance to get some solid volume in and rest from competition.
“I’ve just been high-altitude training in St Moritz – I hope the race is quick but I really want to work on my tactics to win, that’s my primary goal.
“I’m definitely in shape to break the American record but it’s all about winning. I’m glad all of my races this season have been tactical as it’s like that in major championships so it’s good to prepare.
“It’s definitely a big change having two babies at home and it was the best moment of my life when they were born. You definitely need to make sacrifices but I’ve talked a lot with my wife, it’s a balancing act but my family is my first priority. There are a lot of times I have to leave them but we’ll try to make it work the best we can.”
Coburn, meanwhile is enjoying the form of her life in a superb breakthrough campaign which has seen the 23-year-old American record four lifetime bests including her latest, a 9:11.42 US record in Glasgow.
The winner in Shanghai and runner-up in Paris and Glasgow, Coburn revealed:
“Glasgow was a really fun race, I just try to run hard and it was great to get the record.
“There’s a great crowd and track here and it will be a fun race. It’s always great to get the opportunity to travel and race the best from around the world – we’re all at the top of our game and are ready to run fast so it’s always enjoyable racing them.
“I hope to run another personal best or get close to it. I underperformed when I was last here in 2012 as I was sick but I love visiting beautiful cities.
“I hope we have good conditions, I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can do. I’d love to win here or in Zurich next week – I’ve been second a few times this year.”
On her improvement in 2014, the Olympic finalist explained:
“I was injured last year and nothing’s dramatically shifted in my training this year. I’m training with Jenny Simpson (the world 1500m silver medallist) and I’ve had more fire in my belly this year.
“I’ve achieved my goals this season so it’s just about having fun now and trying to end the season on a high note.
“There are very few race scenarios that are intimidating to me now as I’ve faced them all. There’s little pressure and it’s encouraging to keep getting faster.”
Sweden’s Fougberg claimed the European silver medal last week, which followed her 9:23.96 national record in Glasgow, and the 29-year-old European Team Championships winner said:
“I was very happy with the silver medal, it’s a very big medal for me so I’ve been happy every second since the race. I was in the lead until the final barrier which was so bad but I’m still happy.
“I had some calm days and then a really good session yesterday, and it’s so nice that people are now saying nice things about me – they didn’t talk to me very much before.
“I’m really looking forward to racing in what’s almost like my home town and I’m just focusing on doing a fast race by trying to stick with Emma.”