Building an emotional tie between fan and event (brand) is an art form. The management team at Lausanne gets this.
From the early events, with English Gardner churning up a 10.76 for the 100 meters and LoLo Jones, always popular, winning the B race 100 meter hurdles in 12.69, kept fans interested. The local events, with 800 meters, relays and 1,500 meters, are always supported.
Selina Buchel and Molly Ludlow battled to the finish. But most important for this race, Ms. Buchel is Swiss, and just ran her PB in Paris, with Ludlow right behind her, both running PBs. The race was not as fast here, probably due to the wind, but it was exciting and the crowd loved it.
The orchestration of a track meet requires fields with several types of athletes: in middle distance and long distances, you need hungry athletes willing to make a statement. You need the stars and you need local heroes.
The 5000 meters is a case in point. Mo Farah is a global hero in the sport. His recent trials and tribulations only made him more enticing and the fans lined up to see Mo take on fifteen of the best Kenyan and Ethiopians that could be assembled. Mo Farah is a master racer, and heâ€™s also an entertainer.
In this race, the pace went up and down, and Caleb Ndiku and Thomas Longisiwa paid for it, falling down with Ndiku requiring stitches and a hospital visit.
Yomif Kejelcha, the World Junior Champion and Pre 5000m champ, is young and headstrong. He charged right by Farah at 300 meters to go. Wrong moveâ€”at least with Farah in the race. Mo sprinted like mad, took the race with just over 100 meters to go. Over the last 50, while running a 54.44 last lap, Farah showed that he is back.
The men's shot put! David Storl wants to win another World Champ. Joe Kovacs wants to win his first. Storl throws 22.20 meters and shows whoâ€™s boss. Kovacs will be back. These two provided an entertaining shot put competition. Christian Cantwell is back. Tomas Majewski, two-time Olympic champ, is coming around. Big guys throwing 16-pound steel balls is fun.
Allyson Felix is a rock star. Sheâ€™s been racing as a pro since she was 18. Her race here was excellent. Dafen Schippers, the Netherland sprint and multievent superstar, took Allyson on and battled her until 170 meters. Then Felix took off and the party was over.
The men's 100 meters featured Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Justin Gatlin. Each had a role to play in the race. Gay is pretty self-deprecating. Powell, who has run 87 sub-10 second 100 meters, is reportedly the funny one of the bunch. Gatlin is the fastest man in the world, the person many in the media find disappointing, and the fans seem to just want him to run fast.
Having events like this, with the best fields of the year, are required for DL meets to be successful. What makes your meet unique? In Paris, it was the women's 5000m, Asafa Powell, the men's steeplechase. Itâ€™s the events that people talk about for days afterwards.
In Lausanne, the 5000 meters with Mo Farah, started the chatter. The women's 100-meter hurdles, with Dawn Harper-Nelson taking on the newcomers Sharika Nelvis and Jasmine Stowers, was fantastic. Harper-Nelson is an entertainer and European fans love her. Farah had the crowd on his side the entire race. And then there was the men's 100 meters that really brought the fans to a new level of excitement.
The race was won by Gatlin in 9.75 which, on a cold and blustery evening, was stupendous. He beat Powell, who ran 9.92, and Tyson Gay, who ran 9.92.
The women's high jump was one of those extremely rewarding surprises. Anna Chicherova, the 2012 London champion, took off 2014 due to a very sore back. That was clearly the right move, as here Anna cleared 2.03 meters, the highest jump of the year thus far.
And it never hurts to schedule something in the final minutes of the meeting thatâ€™ll give the fans something to talk about on the way home.
In the women's 1500 meters, Sifan Hassan had been brooding. She doesnâ€™t like to lose, and so she set her sights on American Jenny Simpson, the 2011 World Champ and 2013 Silver WC. Hassan drove the race, Simpson tried to counter, and quite frankly, wore herself out. Faith Chipyegon, the brilliant young Kenyan runner, caught Simpson at the finish for second.
Then came the men's 800 meters. David Rudisha's fearless front-running was challenged by Nijel Amos in the last seconds of race, as he climbed and clawed his way down the track. This time, Amos won!
The final event of the night was the women's 4x100m relay, featured the Swiss relay team. It was such a great finish to the meet, others should use it! The national pride, the excitement of the event, also must make the sponsor very happy!
On a cold, blustery Swiss evening, the Lausanne Athletissima showed why it has been and continues to be, one of the greatest meets in the world.
This 40th edition certainly will be discussed for years to come.