Powell, Lavillenie and Dibaba hope to star in Bolt`s absence
Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell, pole vault king Renaud Lavillenie and Ethiopian middle distance star Genzebe Dibaba are set to light up Paris` Diamond League meet on Saturday in the absence of injured Usain Bolt.
Paris: Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell, pole vault king Renaud Lavillenie and Ethiopian middle distance star Genzebe Dibaba are set to light up Paris` Diamond League meet on Saturday in the absence of injured Usain Bolt.
Bolt was a late withdrawal from both the French capital`s meet and that in Lausanne next week, pulling out with a problematic pelvis injury that has left him seeking treatment from world-renowned German doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt.
"He`s the best doctor in the world ..." said Bolt, who is suffering from a blocked sacroiliac joint in the pelvis which effects his left leg and could potentially put in jeopardy his participation in next month`s World Athletics Championships in Beijing.
So it falls to 32-year-old Powell to fill Bolt`s shoes in Paris, while Jamaica`s double world and Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce also goes in what promises to be a very competitive women`s 100m.
"My personal best is 9.72sec (set in 2008), so at my best I know I can run that. But I want to run another personal best, that`s what I`m focused on, not anyone else," said Powell, who will be up against American duo Michael Rodgers and Ryan Bailey, veteran Kim Collins and teammate Nesta Carter.
"I`ve been very exposed for a long time and now I feel very good below the radar," Powell admitted.
"With a view to the worlds in Beijing, it would be good to run a little faster than my times so far this season."
Fraser-Pryce is promised a tough time in the women`s 100m, having already notched up the best time of the season (10.79sec), a performance equalled by American English Gardner, also competing in Paris.
Ivory Coast`s Murielle Ahoure is leading the IAAF Diamond League ranking while also in the field will be reigning European champion Dafne Schippers, the Dutch sprinter having brought her personal best down to 10.94sec in May.
There will be an attempt on the world record in the women`s 5000m, Genzebe Dibaba out to better a time of 14min 11.15sec set by her older sister Tirunesh in Oslo in 2008.
The younger Dibaba is already holder of world indoor records over 1500m, 3000m and 5000m, but she will be up against compatriot Almaz Ayana at the Stade de France, the latter having run a world leading time of 14:14.32 this season.
In field events, world record holder Renaud Lavillenie will bid to keep the home crowd happy in the men`s pole vault, with one eye firmly fixed on the Beijing worlds.
"Paris is a very interesting date because it will be the first meet of a second series," Lavillenie said.
"I`ll compete in five straight competitions to find the rhythm and the benchmarks ahead of the championships."
But he was realistic about vaulting up to his world record of 6.16m.
"Jumping 6m is never simple," the reigning Olympic gold medallist said.
"It`s important to know that just 18 pole vaulters have cleared 6m in history. And there are only three of us to have pulled off this performance at least five times. In the Stade de France, it`s often windy and it rotates and makes the competitions complicated. However, if conditions are favourable on Saturday evening, I have to be able to go high."
A second absentee, however, will be Ukrainian high jumper Bohdan Bondarenko, who pulled out with an injured ankle.
Arch rival Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar takes over as clear favourite to prevail in the high jump in his absence.