Last year, Clarence Munyai entered the top 10 of the fastest 200 metres runners of all time with a phenomenal time of 19.69, and he was barely 20 years old. As the new South-African record holder he pushed none other than Wayde Van Niekerk, the Olympic Champion and 400 metres world record holder and certainly no dud in the 200 metres either, off his throne. Munyai, who has an identical twin brother, is also the world record junior holder with a time of 31.61 in the 300 metres, the distance he will be running in Liège on Wednesday.
“This is my first time in Belgium. I think it is great?, says the South-African sprinter, who will be racing in two competitions in our country. ?I am hoping to improve the 300 metres meeting record in Liège on Wednesday and on Saturday, I am hoping to beat my best time of this season (in the 200 metres at the KBC Nacht in Heusden, ed.).?
BROEDERS – ART
The Meeting International d?Athlétisme de la Province de Liège is traditionally also a precursor to the big championships. A top performance in the convivial Stade de Naimette-Xhovémont can launch athletes on their path to the World Championships in Doha (27th September ? 6th October 2019) and the Olympic Games in Tokyo (24th July ? 9th August 2020).
In pole-vaulting, Ben Broeders has been sure of a place in the World Championships for a while, and for an Olympic ticket he will have to vault over 5m80. It might happen in Liège on Wednesday, because the man from Louvain is in top shape. Two weeks ago, he jumped over 5m76 in Hof, Germany, thereby beating the Belgian record set by Arnaud Art by no less than 4 cm. Can Broeders, who deservedly won bronze at the Universiade in Naples last week Friday, add another 4cm in Liège? Art is also appearing in the ?Fervent City? on Wednesday and will have to vault over 5m71 to join Broeders at the World Championships. The two Belgian top athletes will be challenged by the German Malte Mohr, who is two-time Vice World Indoor Champion and has a PR of 5m91.
Ben Broeders: “I feel really motivated when I am competing with Arnaud Art. When I was little, my brother regularly competed with Arnaud. I saw him do some fantastic vaults. Because I was small, I was not as good as that at all. It is so nice to be able to jump together now. Furthermore, he is one of my best friends. I am hoping there will be an amazing atmosphere on Wednesday… and yes, of course I am also hoping for some great results.?
BERINGS – ZAGRÉ
The 100 metres hurdles will also offer an exciting Belgian top duel between Anne Zagré and Eline Berings. The athlete from East-Flanders is making a return after suffering injuries and has to run that distance in 12.98 if she wants to go to Doha. Zagré has already secured her World Championship place. The athlete from Brussels has also had her fair share of injuries, but she has managed to get back in shape just in time. At the end of last month, she ran 12.96 and missed the World Championship entry standard by two hundredths at a meeting in Switzerland. For the Olympic games in Tokyo she needs 12.84. This is definitely an attainable goal for both Belgian top athletes, because Berings? personal record is 12.72 and Zagré?s is 12.71, which is also the Belgian record. The Austrian Beate Schrott, who has a PR of 12.82, can propel our compatriots forward in Liège.
MORE BELGIANS AND INTERNATIONAL TOP ATHLETES
Other Belgian women to look forward to at the Meeting International d?Athlétisme de la Province de Liège are Elise Vanderelst in the 800 metres and Hanne Maudens in the long jump. Can Maudens, who has a PR of 6m51, come anywhere near the Belgian record of 6m67 that was set by Nafi Thiam in Talence a couple of weeks ago? In any case, Maudens is on a roll, because last Friday, she grabbed bronze at the heptathlon at the Gavle European U23 Championships in Sweden. Vanderelst is also a strong contender, because she ran all the way to silver in the 1500 metres in Sweden. The Belgian men who will be competing in Liège on Wednesday are Gaylord Kuba Di-Vita in the 100 metres, Aurèle Vandeputte in the 800 metres and Romain Nicodème in the 400 metres hurdles.
We would also like to highlight a number of international athletes, namely Michelle-Lee Ahye, Desiree Henry, Levern Spencer and Svetlana Radzivil. The former two are competing in the 100 metres, the latter two in the high jump. Both the Uzbek Radzivil and Spencer, an athlete from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, are Olympic finalists and have a PR of 1m98 to their names. It promises to be an excellent duel! And we can say the same for the 100 metres. Michelle-Lee Ahye, from Trinidad & Tobago, was a finalist at the Olympic Games in Rio in the 100 and 200 metres and has a PR of 10.82. Desiree Henry is Vice World Champion in the 4×100 metres with the British team and her personal best is 11.06.
The Stade de Naimette-Xhovémont will fill up again for the convivial event on Wednesday. More than 2,000 athletics fans have already confirmed that they will be there by downloading their ticket via the meeting website. However, it is not too late yet. You can still download free tickets up until Tuesday 16th July 11:59pm. On Wednesday, you can still buy tickets at the main entrance to the stadium. If you cannot make it this year, do not despair, because the Liège Province and organiser Golazo have recently extended their cooperation to 2024. In addition, a brand new track will be laid down next year for the 19th edition of the Meeting International d?Athlétisme de la Province de Liège. Some exciting (and fast) times lie ahead!