2017 Herculis International Athletics Meeting: faster, higher, stronger
The 30th edition of the Herculis International Athletics Meeting took place this past Friday 21st of July at the Stade Louis II in Monaco. It was the 11th round of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League, the annual series of track and field meetings held all over the world. Friday’s event attracted a huge number of people coming to experience the impressive display of skill and talent of some of the world’s best athletes – not to mention catch a glimpse of the evening’s stars, Usain Bolt and Wayde Van Niekerk, in action.
The Monaco Herculis meeting, organised by the Monegasque Athletics Federation and its president S.A.S. Prince Albert II, seeks to create an enthusiastic evening of high-level sport for the public, who again this year ensured that the event was a sold-out success. Since the first ever meeting in 1987, The MAF chaired by Prince Albert himself, has sought to promote sport in the Principality and encourage Monaco’s status as a “sporting centre of great importance”. Herculis has been greatly successful over the years, ranked World’s Best Meeting in 2011 and 2014, thanks to outstanding athletic performances, and achieving its best score ever in 2015!
The week preceding the meeting was dotted with numerous promotional and sporty activities that took place across the French Riviera, the most prominent being the Herculis Perche Tour. This consisted of a demonstration of pole-vaulting by accomplished athletes where even the public was invited to participate and try for themselves. Many children joined in, concentrating and having fun as experienced athletes encouraged and inspired them. Right before the main event, 1000m races were also hosted in the Stade, open to everyone from children to veterans.
The Herculis Meeting 2017 was a great show, with an incredible array of track and field activities, such as high jump, long jump, javelin throw, pole-vaulting, and running of various distances.There were so many activities happening in unison that it was hard to know where to look, all equally impressive as each other. The atmosphere was vibrant as Monaco came together to celebrate sport, for the especially important 30th anniversary of the event. The crowd did not fail to excite the athletes, ecstatic and enthusiastic as they cheered for some of the world’s finest sportsmen, honoured to be able to see them perform. It was a once in a lifetime evening for many coveting the chance to admire a few of their favourite and most respected sport icons.
Athletes qualified with just seconds between them, while the public watched on holding their breath. Olympic and world champion Wayde van Niekerk won the battle for the first place against Botswana’s Isaac Makwala in the 400m run, finishing in 43.73 seconds. Another South African, Caster Semenya, won a dramatic women’s 800 meters in a season’s best and meeting record time of 1:55.27, “I showed my strength and my opponents surprised me by pushing me. It was a tough fight until the end”, she commented. Elijah Manangoi, who believes that “Monaco is the best track for the 1500m”, upstaged a strong field to win the men’s 1500 meters in a year’s best time of 3:28.80. Kenyan, Emmanuel Korir, also ran the fastest time of the year as he won the men’s 800 meters in 1:43.10.
The most awaited category of the evening was the 100m run with the star of the running universe,eight-time Olympic gold medallist, Usain Bolt. His performance did not disappoint, meeting everyone’s high expectations and snagging first place. He started out in his usual ‘slow’ style before effortlessly speeding up and gliding across the finish line, a signature move that the world has come to know and love, finishing just 0.03 seconds before fellow runner, Isiah Young. Basking in all his well earned glory, he shoot cheeky glances at the cameras before making his way round the whole stadium to say hi to fans and sign their posters.
Prince Albert II awarded Usain Bolt the Lifetime Achievement Trophy, as he will be competing for the very last time next month for the world championship in London. Bolt commented on his performance, “Sub 10 (9.95) is always good. It was an exciting race, lots of energy”, and commented on his bittersweet impending retirement: “I’m always here for the fans, of course I will miss the vibe around the track. Mixed emotions always – happy for my career, sad that it is ending”.
Princess Charlene was also present to hand out the well-deserved awards, looking elegant in a floor length green flowing dress, delighting the public that snapped away. As soon as the athletes completed their respective categories, they were already thinking ahead, ready to train again for the London event. When Kori Carter, who won first place in the 400m hurdles, was asked about the race, she said, “Finally, I executed the perfect race, which makes me happy as it’s my second win in a row”, but already had the next challenge in mind, “my goal for London is gold, that is clear”. Timothy Cheruiyot, who achieved his personal best in the men’s 1500m, was also looking ahead, “I’m qualified for London and that’s where I’m headed next, planning to do even better!”.
The Herculis Meeting was finished off with wonderful fireworks that lit-up the entire stadium. Monaco’s sportiest evening will be back next year to delight the public once again.