Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam chose the French Indoor Championships in Lievin on Sunday (1) to show she is back to her very best.
Six months after losing her world heptathlon crown to Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson in Doha, Thiam broke the national indoor long jump record with all three of her opening efforts, her best being 6.79m.
She had started the day with an indoor lifetime best of 6.51m but stretched that distance in brilliant fashion, culminating with the second best mark of her career, just behind her outdoor best of 6.86m.
With the Olympics in Tokyo and the Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships the major focus of the summer – she is defending champion in both events – the Belgian star is injury-free again and looks back in the groove.
Fellow combined events specialist Hanne Maudens had set the previous national indoor record with 6.53m last year – breaking Thiam’s previous mark of 6.51m – but the Olympic and European heptathlon champion had quite an afternoon, beginning with 6.63m, following it up with 6.66m and then reaching 6.79m in the third round before a 6.59m in the fourth.
Speaking to L'Equipe, she said: “I'm really happy, the first three jumps for me are very important at heptathlon.I hadn't prepared for the indoor season. My coach really wanted me to do a long jump competition because it was going well in training. I am surprised and happy to see that the technical work is bearing fruit.”
But Thiam was not the only guest to break a national record as Denmark’s Janne Nielsen won the triple jump with a national indoor record of 13.72m.
As Thiam was stealing the show, France’s pole vault superstar Renaud Lavillenie continues to show he will still be a factor outdoors this summer. Sweden’s Armand Duplantis might have taken the event to incredible levels this winter by breaking Lavillenie’s world record and reaching 6.18m, the Frenchman remains a major force.
One weekend after clearing 5.94m to finish second to Duplantis in Clermont-Ferrand, Lavillenie won the national indoor title with 5.80m, the 150th time he has cleared 5.80m or higher during his amazing career. Young brother Valentin was second with 5.70m.
With a 5.80m clearance at the French Indoor Championships in Lievin, Renaud Lavillenie reached his 150th competition in which he has cleared 5.80m or higher!— European Athletics (@EuroAthletics) March 1, 2020
Lavillenie broke the 5.80m barrier for the first time in his career in December 2008. pic.twitter.com/48XbhN3yhE
On Saturday, the women’s crown went to Ninon Guillon-Romarin on the first day of the championships as she cleared 4.65m to beat China’s Xu Huiqin and French teammate Marion Lotout who both had bests of 4.55m.
Clemence Beretta produced the performance of her life to break the French national indoor 3000m walk record as she won in 12:30.52, with former holder Emilie Menuet, whose time of 12:35.17 she beat, second in 12:38.13.
Among the other French champions over the weekend, Cynthia Leduc in women 60m 7.29 and Cyrena Samba-Mayela won the 60m hurdles in 8.06.
One weekend after finishing second at the Italian Indoor Championships in Ancona, reigning European indoor champion Gianmarco Tamberi showed some semblance of his best form in Siena on Saturday.
He won the men’s competition with a season’s best of 2.31m, clearing it at the first attempt before one try at 2.34m, as he won ahead of former world silver medallist Zhang Guowei from China (2.25m).
Fellow Italian Elena Vallortigara won the women’s event with 1.92m just one week after clearing 1.96m in Ancona.