In just a fraction of a second, everything can change. Just ask any Herculis athlete: they are the fastest people on the planet, competing at such high speeds, that everything boils down to a few milliseconds. Herculis, Monaco’s one-day Diamond League event, is a favourite among sports fans and top-level athletes. This year, twenty-one world and Olympic champions will be battling it out for gold on 21 July. And at the Monaco Herculis, a mere fraction of a second means the life-changing difference between first and second place.
Crowned “World’s Best Meeting” Seven Times
“The Monegasque Federation of Athletics and its president Prince Albert II of Monaco strive each year to present to its numerous spectators an enthusiastic evening and a high level sports show,” says the Monegasque Federation of Athletics.
The first Monaco Herculis event took place in 1987 at the brand new Stade Louis II. Two decades later, it was entered into the Diamond League. Since then, seven editions of the Monaco Herculis have been ranked as the ‘World’s Best Meeting’ for track and field.
World records achieved at the Stade Louis II
The Stade Louis II has a notoriously fast track! Several world records have been smashed in Monaco’s stadium. It all began in 2008, when Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva achieved the pole vault world record with 5m04. In 2015, Genzebe Dibaba clinched the 1,500 metre world record with 3:50.07 (recently beaten by Faith Kipyegon during the Diamond League in Florence with a time of 3:49.11).
Monaco is the only Diamond League event that still holds three world records. In 2018, Beatrice Chepkoech from Kenya ran the women’s 3000 metre steeplechase in 8:44.32. In 2019, Sifan Hassan achieved the world record for the mile in 4:12.33. In 2020, Joshua Cheptegei from Uganda ran the men’s 5000 metre in 12:35.36.
Record holders competing at the Herculis
The line-up for this year’s event includes champions like Armand Duplantis (Swedish pole vault record holder), Faith Kipyegon (considered the best 1500 metre runner in history), Jacob Kiplimo (world record holder in the half-marathon), Pedro Pichardo (world and Olympic champion in the triple jump) and France’s own Jimmy Gresssier (who achieved a European record this year at the Louis II stadium, clocking in at 13:12 in the 5 kilometre).
Several high-profile clashes are expected at this year’s Herculis, with top-notch athletes looking to beat their rivals and maybe even set some new world records. Here’s our look at the five most-anticipated competitions at this year’s Herculis…
Faith Kipyegon: two world records in one month!
Faith Kipyegon shocked audiences when she broke two world records at two successive Diamond League meetings. First, the 29 year-old Kenyan clocked in at 3:49.11 in the 1500 metre in Florence. One week later, she broke another world record with 14:05.20 in the 5000 metre in Paris. The superstar plans to take on the mile in Monaco. It seems almost impossible, but Faith Kipyegon might just claim her third world record of the season at the Herculis!
The hurdle race everyone is waiting for…
Olympic champion, world champion and world record-holder, Karsten Warholm is looking for a third win in Monaco in the 400 metre hurdles. Plagued by injuries last year, he wowed the public in March at the Istanbul European Championships with a gold-medal time of 46.52. In Monaco, the Norwegian will go up against current champion Alison Dos Santos and long-time US rival Rai Benjamin in the much-anticipated race.
Keep your eyes on Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone
Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone is quickly climbing the 400 metre ladder. She is the world record holder in the 400 metre hurdles, but has since shifted her focus to the 400 metre sprint this season, and she’s achieving incredible results. Competing in the Diamond League for the first time since 2019, the American came in second with a personal best, 49.71 seconds in Paris in June. Later that month, McLaughlin-Levrone won gold when she ran 49.51 seconds at the USATF New York GP. On 8 July, she ran 48.74 seconds at the USATF Championships in Oregon. In Monaco, she’ll be going up against running stars Shamier Little and Natalia Kaczmarek. Will she attain her first Diamond League win in four years? We’ll see!
Four stars in the triple jump
The men’s triple jump is expected to be outstanding this year. France’s star, Jean-Marc Pontvianne, seven-time Diamond League champion, Christian Taylor, world and Olympic champion, Pedro Pablo Pichardo and 2022 Diamond Trophy winner Andy Diaz are all in the mix. It could be anyone’s game!
Soufiane El Bakkali aims to beat world record in Monaco
Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma made history in the 3000 metre steeplechase at the Wanda Diamond League in Paris when he broke the world record. His incredible time of 7:53.63 is something that Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali aims to beat. Who will come out on top? Anything can happen on the Stade Louis II track!
Every event is a highlight!
Aside from our top five top picks, every other Herculis event promises to be full of drama and thrills this year. The women’s long jump will see Malaika Mihambo (World and Olympic champion) compete against Ivana Vuleta (World indoor champion) and Jazmin Sawyers (European Indoor champion). All eyes will be on Mondo Duplantis during the men’s pole-vault. The world record holder is expected to come out on top in Monaco. Jakub Vadlejch is the favourite for the men’s javelin. The Czech threw a distance of 89m51 this season. The women’s high jump promises to be a tight competition with Ukrainian Yaroslava Mahuchikh (2m01 this season), Nicola Olyslagers (2m02) and Iryna Gerashchenko (2m00).
Emmanuel Kipkurui Korir is the man to beat in the men’s 800 metre, with Djamel Sedjati and Marco Arop expected to be hot on his heels. The women’s 100 metre hurdles will be an opportunity to see the world’s best duo facing off: Jasmine Camacho-Quinn (reigning Olympic champion) and Kendra Harrison (Olympic silver medallist and former world record holder).
Four of the top ten performers of all time will be competing in the men’s 5,000 metre, with world record holder Berihu Aregawi (12:40.45) and Jacob Kiplimo (who ran 12:41.73 in Oslo). The women’s 200 metre promises to be explosive with reigning world champion Shericka Jackson, (who set her personal best set in Monaco last year) as the favourite. The men’s 100 metre will be a fierce duel between Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala (African record holder with 9.77) and Jamaican Ackeem Blake (9:89 this season).
A lot can happen in a fraction of a second. A dozen Herculis Diamond League gold medallists will be crowned in Monaco on 21 July, some winning by only a few milliseconds. Sports fans across the globe are looking forward to the rapid-fire races, new records and heated rivalries taking place very soon on the Louis II track.