Herculis Monaco features some of the great historic confrontations in sport and heroic names reverberate in our minds – in sprinting for example, Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis.
Remember the great 1991 Stade Lewis II meet when Lewis faced off against the then world record holders France and subsequent champions Jamaica in the 4 times 100 metre relay. Ever wonder how the then world record winning time of 37.79, of which Carl Lewis ran the anchor leg, was faster even than four times Bolt’s current world 100 metre record of 9.58 seconds? Because in the relay, the sprinters receive the baton when they are already running at high speed in the transfer zone. So the time to hit top speed is lightning-fast with this running start. In a 100 metre sprint, you never get a running start like that.
The question before Jean-Pierre Schoebel, the director of tonight’s Herculis EBS 2020 meeting, at the Louis-II stadium, must have been how to pull-off an iconic sports event when country after country have cancelled great upcoming events in the wake of the Covid19 pandemic. With a reported budget of only about a million euros (half the normal) he has had to task a team of a guesstimated 30 dedicated members to convince 140 of the world’s crack athletes to pack their bags for Monaco and challenge them to break records in front of a fortunate 5000 strong audience (in normal times 15000 would be the number of allowed tickets). So yes, it’s happening – the Herculis EBS 2020 meeting, is held tonight at the Louis-II stadium.
The “Monaco” insignia immediately brings into memory so many world-record-breaking achievements. There is something magical about the Principality, the climate and the fans here that brings the best out of the athletes. This time around maybe they will be even better rested sleeping just one to a room under the new health guidelines.
Just to tickle your brain cells here are four memorable Monaco-Louis Stade II moments in sports athletics history that have paved the way for high expectations for tonight’s record-breaking attempts.
Nourredine Morceli in 1994 who smashed the 3000 metres world record in Monaco in 7 minutes 25.11 seconds. Tonight the 5000 lucky spectators will get to see the same record breaking attempts that normally 15000 would get to see, before Covid19 limited the audience size.
Yelena Isinbayeva – Pole Vaulter Extraordinare
The great Yelena Isinbayeva at home in Monaco. Louis Stade II had become her home stadium.
Two times Olympic gold medalist and three times World Champion she chose the 2009 Louis Stade II meet to have her “home crowd” watch her fly threw the air over 5 metres high leaving her pole dancing in the air behind her for a world record making 5.04 metres. Just one of the 13 times she would advance the world record in the open air. “Fly like Yelena” had done it yet again.
1500 Metres World Record
It’s 2015, the star 1500 metre event and Dibaba’s goal is to wipe out from the record books the World Record of 3minutes 50.46 seconds of China’s Qu Yunxia. Monaco is the chosen spot to rise to this challenge in advance of what would soon see her taking the World Championship laurels in Pekin. Herculis Monaco sees another World Record history making success by the Ethiopian at 3.50.07.
Beyond a Dream – The Impossible
It doesn’t happen. It can’t happen. It did. Not in a dream but in reality in Monaco in 2018. 8.52.78 minutes to beat in the 3000 metre steeplechase for a World Record. A second sliced off the record would leave jaws dropping but eight seconds – the world record shattered with this unique feat of 8.44.32 – a record that still stands. The women had done it again; none other than the great Kenyan, Chepkoech.
Only in Monaco! Perhaps again tonight at Louis Stade II, World Sporting history will be made.