Tonight will see World Record Holder Aries Merritt’s first Diamond League appearance of the 2014 season, as he takes to the blocks in the Men’s sprint Hurdles at the Stade Louis II Stadium in Monaco. Prior to the meet getting underway from 6.30pm local time this evening, we took the opportunity to sit down with Aries and Coach Andreas Behm to get their thoughts on tonight’s race, and what the 2014 season means to them.
Ellie: Aries, Andreas, thanks for taking the time out before the meet to chat with us. Let’s start with this incredible backdrop here on the Cote d’Azur, what a stunning place to be able to compete! What’s it like racing here in Monaco and how are you feeling about the meet tonight?
Aries: Well I am just excited to finally get my 2014 season underway. We decided to focus on the second half of the track year to help springboard me into 2015. This is an awesome place to open up. A very though field with race sharp opponents, but I am excited about the challenge.
Andreas: It is nice to be back in Monaco, this is our third year here in a row. We raced two years ago and last year we came here for an extended training camp. You can’t beat being on the coast in a ritzy environment with great weather and awesome facilities!
Ellie: Absolutely right – an amazing location for a track meet! So moving forward from tonight’s competition, 2014 is a notoriously difficult year for non European and Commonwealth athletes due to the lack of a major championship focus. So, what is the plan for 2014, and how do you use this year to build momentum towards the next major focus?
Aries: We have big plans for the upcoming three years. I want to get back to the form I was in in 2012. I have been a little beat up over the last year and a half, but I feel we finally have my body back to where it needs to be. Now it is a matter of having more quality practice time and I should be on my way.
Andreas: Yes, while this year is clearly a chance to build on many entities, the 2015 season is critically important. It starts off a new three year cycle with major world wide Championships; Beijing, Rio and London. It is critical to be in a good state of training to be able to maximize opportunities during that time frame.
Ellie: So an exciting few years ahead for you guys!
Andreas: Yes, we definitely do have big plans. In the meantime workouts have been going well. We got here on Monday to get over jet-lag. We had our last hard hurdle workout on Tuesday, which Aries handled well coming off the plane. His pre-comp went well yesterday, so we are looking forward to racing tonight.
Aries: Exactly right – my body feels fully adjusted and my legs are good to go. I think I have already lost weight over here. The food is amazing, everything is so fresh and healthy. I think I want to move to Europe just for the fresh meats, produce and grains.
Andreas: Not a bad idea. You could continue to practice your French; Aries has been using his favorite French word every occasion he gets…
Andreas: So polite. But you should say it like you usually do…
Aries: (laughs) Okay: Muuuuuuurrrrccccccciiiiiiiiiiiiiii
Andreas: That’s more like it!
Ellie: Great accent Aries! Right on that note, may I say a big thank you gentlemen for your time – and very best of luck for tonight from all of us at Altis.