Peter Bol has become well acquainted with the Paris Diamond League, twice the top name on the waiting list for the 800m race, twice falling one position shy of a place on the starting line.
This narrative is set to change this Saturday, as Bol and precocious training partner Joseph Deng take on a stellar field.
Kurtis Marschall returns to the Diamond League circuit, following a relocation west, under the experienced eye of Alex Parnov at the Western Australian Institute of Sport.
A season of change, 2018 has brought a series of pivotal races for Bol and Deng, indicative of the manner in which a breakthrough performance can alter the scheduling of an entire season, a phenomena observed by Deng following the Commonwealth Games final, and Bol after victory in 1:44.56 in Stockholm.
The architect behind Bol and Deng’s physical and mental performances, Justin Rinaldi was quick to note the differences a season can make, using Bol’s recent 1:45.35 as an example, “Last year Pete only found out he was in the race the day before the meet! We had just completed a very hard track session the day before as we thought he wasn’t getting a run.”
This resulted in immediately driving five hours, Bol sneaking in a quick nap, and running 1:46.35 for fourth, a commendable run given the preparation. Saturday’s start will be substantially more organised, with the addition of manager James Templeton to Bol’s support team, “He has built an amazing network in Europe and has direct contact with all the major meets, but he still needs his athletes to perform if they want to get a lane in those big races” remarked Rinaldi.
Deng has enjoyed an encouraging training block, impressing Rinaldi, “Joseph was a little further ahead in terms of race fitness that Peter and that was the driver for adding in the extra race during the week. Training has been going as well as can be expected for both of them”.
A field containing 11 sub-1:45 athletes provides a new environment for Bol and Deng, a situation in which a record time is placed in the back of an athlete’s mind, whilst fighting for position with athletes who command global respect, such as close friend and World Champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (FRA, 1:42.53), Ferguson Rotich (KEN, 1:42.84), Alfred Kipketer (KEN, 1:42.87) and Jonathan Kitilit (1:43.05).
Both athletes enter the event with clear instructions from Rinaldi, embracing a mindset that has served them well on their European travels, “While the time is clearly a target, the main objective this trip has been to be in a position to win every race regardless of who is in the field. The race on Saturday will be no different to any of the previous race so far in Europe - first aim is to win the race.”
Marschall’s 2018 environment change was put on display for the first time last weekend in Mannheim, Germany, where the prodigiously talented 21-year old soared to victory with a 5.70m clearance. A low-key European opener within 10 centimetres of his personal best signals encouraging form for the Commonwealth pole vault champion, as the Paris field pits 10 vaulters against each other with personal bests of 5.80m or better.
The field is led by Rio Olympic champion and record holder, Thiago Braz (BRA, 6.03m) who will open his season alongside reigning World Champion Sam Kendricks (USA, 6.00m), world record holder Renaud Lavillenie (FRA, 6.05m/i6.16m) and 18-year old phenom Armand Duplantis (SWE, 5.93m).
Over in Bad Langensalza, Germany, a mecca for long jumpers for many years, Henry Frayne will take his good european form into the Weitsprung-Meeting where the jumps take centre stage.
The German spa town is 800km north of Varese in Italy where Frayne has spent the last two weeks training at the AIS European Training Centre. The Commonwealth silver medallist again takes on is great rival Luvo Manyonga from South Africa who prevailed in their Gold Coast battle. The star of the event this year is Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarria who soared to a wind-aided 8.83m, one of the longest all-condition jumps in history at the Stockholm Diamond League just over two weeks ago. Just three days later the 19-year-old set a new legal personal best of 8.66m in Ostrava.
Sean Whipp for Athletics Australia
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Paris Diamond League, France - Start Lists and Live Results | Watch on Eurosport and Foxtel Now (Require subscriptions) Live coverage early Sunday morning 4:00am - 6:00am AEST (Plus Oslo and Stockholm Previews before)
Weitsprung-Meeting Bad Langensalza (11pm AEST)
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