The world’s best descend on Rabat
One day before the 2018 edition of Mohammed VI International Meeting in Rabat, the stage is set for the Moroccan leg of the IAAF Diamond League. As meeting director Alain Blondel revealed at a press conference on Thursday, 12 Olympic Champions, 11 IAAF World Champions, and seven Diamond Trophy holders will grace the Stade Prince Moulay Abdellah on Friday evening. The current world leaders will line up in 10 of the 16 events, and the home crowd can also look forward to the cream of the crop of Moroccan track and field stars.
Joining Monsieur Blondel at Thursday’s press conference were 11 of the biggest stars who are competing in Rabat this year, and they gave the following insights into their preparations, emotions and hopes ahead of the meeting.
Thomas Röhler (Germany - Javelin): "This is the first time in my career that I will have competed in a Diamond League meeting in Africa. The Diamond League is very important to me this season, equally as important as the European Championships in Berlin, in my country. The Rabat competition promises to be difficult. I just came out of a period of intense training, but I was able to recover. With good conditions, I think I can clear the 90 metre mark again. "
Conseslus KIPRUTO (Kenya - 3,000m steeplechase): "The race is going to be very fast, with high quality opposition, but I'm ready. My ambition here is to compete with Soufiane El Bakkali, who will perform in front of his home crowd. I want to try to push as much as possible towards the end of the race. I hope to run a sub-8-minute time, and score maximum points on the Road To The Final. With El Bakkali in the race, it will undoubtedly be something special. "
Shaunae MILLER-UIBO (Jamaica - 200m): "This is the second time I have competed in Rabat, and I have a great memory of the first, last year, with my victory over 400m. The crowd is incredible. My goal this year is to become even faster over 400m "
Hellen OBIRI (Kenya - 5000m): "I have not run this season in the Diamond League yet. But I come to Rabat with the ambition to win. The track is fast, the stage is high quality. I think we can expect a very fast race. "
Genzebe DIBABA (Ethiopia - 5000m): "The 5000m Meeting of Rabat will be the second of my season. I am perfectly ready, in excellent condition. I tested the track on Thursday, and it is fast. I think I can reach a better time than when I won in Eugene."
Sam KENDRICKS (USA - Pole): "This is the first time I have competed in Rabat, and I am happy to get to know a new venue. Every time I jump, my goal is to get to six metres, but I am not the only one who can do it.”
Renaud LAVILLENIE (France - Pole): "The stadium is very beautiful. I cannot wait to jump tomorrow. The facilities are high quality. Last year, Pawel (Wojciechowski) managed to jump 5.85m, so I think we can jump high here. I’ve just come out of a victory in Lausanne, I wanted my little revenge on Sam (Kendricks) who had beaten me in Paris. Here we are on neutral ground. "
Mariya LASITSKENE (ANA - High jump): "This is my first competition in Rabat. I hope I can put in an excellent performance, as the weather and conditions look good. I am in good condition. My motivation comes from within, to beat my personal best record and keep going higher. I'm only 3 cm from the world record, but in the high jump, that’s an important gap. "
Christian COLEMAN (USA - 100 m): "I am in great shape. I was forced to stop for two weeks because of an injury. I had never experienced anything like that before, but It taught me a lot, just like the rest of the season. I discovered the virtues of recovery, the need to pay attention of my body. I saw my rivals go very fast to the US championships. It made my legs itch."
Abdelaati IGUIDER (Morocco - 3000 m): "I hope I can meet the expectations of the public. I have run here before, and I aim to victory for the Moroccan public. I made the choice to run the 3000m instead of the 1500m. I focused on this distance with my coach, because we think that that is where I have the biggest chance of success."
Soufiane EL BAKKALI (Morocco - 3,000m steeplechase): "The race is going to be very fast, with a field of a great quality. I really want to meet the expectations of the audience. This meeting is very important to me.