This year’s New York stop on the Diamond League circuit featured the men’s javelin and shot put, along with the women’s discus. Accompanied by my wife Alice, a world class traveler and immensely patient woman, I headed to New York two days before the competition and took up residence in the lobby of the Hyatt Grand Central where the meet was headquartered.
My mission? Talk to some of the great throwers in town for the meet.
My method? Camp out in the hotel lounge overlooking the lobby and pounce on them like a panther from a tree when they least expected it.
My first victim…uh…new acquaintance? The fine French discus thrower Melina Robert -Michon, who made the mistake of lingering in the lobby after checking in.
Melina was silver-medalist at the Moscow World Championships with a throw of 66.28m, which I believe is still her PB.
And she is really nice! I know in this country we love to disparage the French as a bunch of arrogant quiche-eaters, but Melina, in spite of having just gotten off a trans-Atlantic flight could not have been more gracious.
She talked about what a crazy week it had been with a competition June 4th in Rome where she threw 63.09m, another June 7th in Birmingham where she threw 63.23m, still another June 9th in France where she threw a season-best 65.04m, and now the New York meet on June 13.
For her to travel and compete that much in that short a time and still act happy to talk to some knucklehead reporter when she probably wanted nothing more than to head to her room and collapse…well…maybe all of us should start eating quiche.
Melina lives and trains in Lyon, with the same coach she has had for fifteen years. She has a four-year-old daughter named Elyssa whom she misses terribly when traveling to competitions. She has a degree in sports management and hopes to compete for at least two more years. “I want to do Rio and maybe London because the 2012 Olympic games was my first competition after I was pregnant and there is another competition in London (the 2017 Worlds), so London to London…it would be nice.”
In terms of training, she does a lot of jumping, some squatting and snatching, and not a lot of bench pressing.How much can she snatch? “Not much. I don’t do a lot of exercises with a lot of weight. I do mostly exercises with low weights. Sometimes with squats I do 120 kilos, very slow going down and fast coming up.”
After a short chat, I wished Melina luck and of course requested a selfie, which came out blurry.
There must be something odd about the length of my arms because I suck at selfies. Here is an example of one I took a couple of days later, during the meet.
It was a perfectly sunny day! And yet, I am shrouded in shadow.
But, I digress. Meeting Melina was a great start to what turned out to be a fantastic weekend.