Jason Richardson - Feeling rich in Monaco (Philippe Fitte) © Copyright
Feature Monte Carlo

Monaco press conference highlights - Samsung Diamond League

MonteCarloSeveral of the key competitors in tomorrow’s Herculis Meeting - Samsung Diamond League line up met with the press this afternoon at the Fairmont Hotel in Monte-Carlo.

400m runners LaShawn Merritt and Kirani James, 110m hurdlers Aries Merritt and Jason Richardson, 100m entrants Ivet Lalova and Myriam Soumare, pole vaulters Yelena Isinbayeva and Fabiana Murer, and U.S. 4x100m Relay team members Allyson Felix, Carmelita Jeter and Tyson Gay discussed tomorrow’s competition as well as their hopes and prospects for the Olympic Games in London.

LaShawn Merritt (USA), 2008 Olympic champion 400m, 2012 world leader (44.12) -

On staying at the top in his event:

It’s a race where every year you have to put a lot out. The training gets harder every year, there’s always someone coming up every year who wants your spot. You have to continue and work hard, stay hungry and stay motivated.

I don't think I’ve run the perfect race yet, but any means. I’ve been working on some different things. Obviously the Olympic Games is the race that’s going to matter. But I love this meet here in Monaco. It’s my favourite meet on the circuit.

Kirani James (GRN), 2011 World champion 400m -

On the pressure of being World champion:

I think pressure and motivation goes hand in hand. Of course people back home and people in the Caribbean want me to go out there and do my best. They really follow everything. Some of it is pressure and some of it is motivation. But the motivation overwhelms the pressure part.

On his expectations for Friday’s race:

It’s the last race before the Olympics for both of us so obviously we both want to go out there and see where we are at and go out there and compete. But it’s not just LaShawn out there in the race. There are a lot of great guys in this race. This is going to be an exciting race from all eight lanes.

Ivet Lalova (BUL), European 100m champion -

On returning to Monaco:

It’s been eight years since I was last here. I remember thinking then how this was the life in athletics, but then I went down and now had to come back again.

On her 11.06 run in the heats of the European Championships, her season’s best:

That was one of the top five races of my career. It shows that I’m in good shape this year.

Her expectations for tomorrow:

I can tell you what my coach will expect. I’ve been working on the first forty metres because obviously at the European Championships that was my weak point. I had an injury at the beginning of the season which really ruined all my plans and half of my preparations so I really couldn’t start my season the way I wanted. So we’ve been working now harder for the Olympics, and tomorrow will be the test. If I did good work we can expect a good time.

Myriam Soumare (FRA), European 200m bronze medallist -

Her expectations for tomorrow:

As always, to have fun. As always the best are here so I’ll go out and try to do my best. I have to work on the end of my race. I have some problems putting everything together after the first forty metres.

Aries Merritt (USA), World leader in the 110m Hurdles at 12.93 -

On the possibility of breaking the World record:

As far as the World record is concerned, you never know when it’s going to happen. It could happen tomorrow. It may not happen tomorrow. But that’s not my focus. My focus is to go out and compete to the best of my ability and if a World record pops up on the timer, that’s great. I’m just going to go out and do what I’ve been doing all season and hope for the best.

On consistency and goals for the Olympic Games:

To be consistent as a hurdler it brings confidence. Indoors worlds was great but now we’re outdoors and hopefully I can keep doing what I’ve been doing all season and hopefully make the podium in London. That’s the ultimate goal. Whatever colour the medal, it doesn’t matter. It’s an accomplishment already to make the Olympic team, as an American, and the podium is the next step.

Jason Richardson (USA), 2011 World champion 110m Hurdles –

On coming back to Monaco:

Coming back to Monaco, I feel rich. I feel very wealthy. I feel important. (Laughs). It’s just the environment. It’s the essence. I feel taller. Like I have better posture.

On the possibility of breaking the World record:

For me, I have to run a clear race. I have yet to put together a start and ten hurdles. I’m just looking for a really clean race. The importance of the record is that in order to get it you’ve really got to run cleanly and execute your specific race.

On consistency and goals for the Olympic Games:

Maybe I’m crazy – which I’ve been told several times – but I’m definitely going to shoot for the absolute best. I would love to run the World record and come home with the gold for America. So I’m going to shoot for the planets, and if that doesn’t work I’ll fall amongst the moons. And if that doesn’t work I’ll fall amongst the stars. And if that doesn’t work I’ll fall on my face.

Definitely getting on the podium will be a blessing.

Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS), Pole Vault World record holder, two-time defending Olympic champion -

Her expectations for tomorrow:

I’m in good shape. We’ve done all the work, we’ve done good preparations. It’s been very hard the past several months. And (my debut in) Sotteville showed that I’m in good shape. But it was my first competition and I was over emotional. But I was ready to jump very high.

Of course I expect a great competition and a good result. A good result would be a world lead, and then who knows, maybe a World record.

Fabiana Murer (BRA), reigning World champion in the Pole Vault -

On slow start to season:

I started with two competitions in Brazil and they weren’t so good. They came after a very long period of training – I didn’t do indoor season this year – almost six months of just training. Which can be very hard for an athlete. I think I needed more competitions. Then I went to the meeting in Eugene, and it was good, and I started to feel more confident, and I won the competition. Then I went to New York one week later and won there with a good mark. After that I wanted to continue competing but I had to stop and return to training again. And it’s been good, I feel more confident and I’m getting more consistent.

For tomorrow I thinking about improving my season’s best and then I’ll start thinking about the Olympic Games.

Allyson Felix (USA), 4x100m Relay -

I think it’s going to be great. It’s a great chance for us to get together. I think we have great chemistry and I think everyone’s just excited to have a great performance.

The most important thing for us is to get the baton around safely. That’s where the focus is for us.

Carmelita Jeter (USA), 4x100m Relay –

I feel really good. I feel like my body’s coming back together. I definitely feel healthy, I feel connected. Right now I’m just training. I’m enjoying where I am right now and I’m excited to get to London.

Tyson Gay (USA), 4x100m Relay –

The relay training’s going good, we’re just basically trying to have fun out there. I’m out there with some of my friends, we’re laughing. So it’s been good.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF