Most of the world tuning in to the 11th round of the 2017 IAAF Diamond League Friday night in Monaco will be doing so to witness the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt in one final tune-up ahead of next month’s world championships in London, where the eight-time Olympic gold medallist will write the final chapter in his illustrious sprinting career.
However, for Australian Olympian Kurtis Marschall, it will be another day at the office as the 15th ranked men’s pole vaulter in the world is all set to reach new heights.
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The 20-year-old Adelaide native has slotted sixth in the 11-man field set to compete at 7:30pm CEST Friday, July 21 (3:30am AEST Saturday, July 22), with current world record holder Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) and reigning Olympic champion Thiago Braz (BRA) on the list.
“I think to come in the top three tonight I would have to jump 5.82m or 5.87m,” Marschall told Eurosport. “I definitely think that I could jump that.
“It would mean jumping a personal best, but I am in really good shape and have been jumping high in the last few meetings.”
Lavillenie, who set the world record at 6.16 in 2014 and is fresh off his seventh French outdoor title in Marseille with a 5.80, feels he is capable of jumping 5.90 and perhaps close to six metres in Monaco.
Marschall currently sits in a three-way tie for 10th with five points, while American Sam Kendricks tops the standings at 32 in the road to the finals. Lavillenie is second with 27, followed by Canadian Shawn Barber with 22.
“The objective for me is to jump the best that I can,” said Marschall. “I would love to jump a new personal best and then let the rest take care of itself.
“I’m hoping to come and channel the energy and the adrenaline of the competition to jump better than I ever have,” he continued. “That would be the perfect preparation for world championships next month. And then also qualify me for the Diamond League final in the following weeks.”
Another Aussie of note competing on the night is 2012 Olympic champion Sally Pearson in the women’s 100m hurdles.
The 30-year-old Pearson arrived in Monaco this week will face off with world record holder Kendra Harrison (USA), who failed to qualify for last year’s Olympics after a shocking sixth-place finish at the US trials, while the Sydney-born, Queensland resident is back near the peak of her career after two injury-plagued years.
However, the 11th-ranked Pearson may need to call on her personal best time of 12.28 to contend with the top-ranked Harris, who owns a world best time of 12.20 last year in London.
New Zealand’s Nick Willis, 34, will line up in lane 13 in the men’s 1500m.
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