Two years after the 18th edition – due to the corona pandemic the biggest athletics meeting in Wallonia could not go ahead last year – the 19th edition of the Meeting International d’Athlétisme de la Province de Liège will open at the Stade de Naimette-Xhovémont in Liège on Wednesday 30th June.
Without a doubt, Nafi Thiam will be one of the main draws of the meeting. The Olympic heptathlon Champion will take part in the 100m hurdles in Liège. She will be competing against Anne Zagré, amongst others, who will have to run 12.84 to qualify directly for the Olympic Games. Thanks to her world ranking, Belgium’s best woman hurdler is still in with a good chance to win a ticket to Tokyo anyway. Pole vaulter Thomas Carmoy is in the same situation. He will have to jump over 2m33 to qualify directly for an Olympic ticket.
Just like Thiam, Elise Vanderelst, Elliot Crestan and Ben Broeders can sleep on both ears when it comes to Tokyo. They will appear relaxed at the start in Liège and will compete with international top athletes. In the 800m event, Vanderelst (who will run the 1500 metres at the Olympic Games, ed) will face competition from Kenyan Mary Moraa and Noelie Yarigo from Benin. In the Men’s 800 metres, Crestan will compete with Kenyan Collins Kipruto, and in pole vaulting, Broeders can expect some opposition from Dutchman Menno Vloon.
In addition to Nafi Thiam, Caster Semenya will be a second Olympic Champion to attend the Meeting International d’Athlétisme de la Province de Liège. A double Olympic Champion no less. The 30-year-old South-African won the gold medal in the 800 metres in London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro in 2016. In Tokyo, Semenya will take part in the 5000m event, but in order to do that she will have to run faster than 15’10″00 in Liège. Francine Niyonsaba, Olympic silver medallist in the 800 metres in Rio, will also appear in Liège. The 28-year-old Burundian made the switch to the 5000 metres just like Semenya, but she has already bagged a ticket for Tokyo.
Katty Firquet: ‘High Quality Event’
“On 30 June, the rhythm of the performances of all these international and national top athletes will make the Stade de Naimette-Xhovémont shake at its foundations again”, says Katty Firquet, commissioner for Sport, Vice-President of the Provincial Council of Liège. “Despite the corona pandemic, we are doing our utmost to offer a high quality event again. The Province Liège is proud to be able to announce that the 20th anniversary next year will coincide with the inauguration of a completely renovated stadium: track, stands, field. There is no doubt that this future new infrastructure of top quality will enable even more top performances.”
Live on TV
As the corona pandemic is not yet fully behind us, it will be impossible to download admission tickets for the coming edition. Therefore, it will not be possible for fans of athletics to attend the meeting in the stadium on 30 June next. Only the youngsters who participate in the pre-programme will be able to follow the meeting in the stadium, together with one accompanying parent. However, everybody can follow the Meeting International d’Athlétisme de la Province de Liège live and in full on RTBF (on the Tipik channel between 7:30pm and 9:30pm) and on the regional Liège channel RTC Liège.