Lavillenie bids to add pole vault world title to laurels

MOSCOW — French pole vault star Renaud Lavillenie has vowed not to rest on his laurels as he aims to add the world title to his Olympic pole vaulting crown when the world championships start on Saturday.

Fresh from vaulting a world-leading 6.02 metres in the London Diamond League meet last month, the Olympic champion is desperate to better his bronze-medal showings in Daegu two years ago and Berlin in 2009.

“I feel good, I’m coming out of training which has gone very well. There’s nothing more to do than to wait and safely negotiate the qualifications on Saturday,” the 26-year-old said, with the final to be held on Monday.

“Direct qualification is set at 5.70m, so I’ll come in at 5.65m and then see if I’ll have to vault any higher. I’m not too worried about that.”

Lavillenie has been a firm fixture atop the podium throughout his career, winning the world indoor champs in Istanbul in 2012, and also claiming back-to-back European titles.

But he said the Olympic title has been the highlight of his career to date.

“The world title is not at the same level as the Olympic title because you have two more chances to get one than an Olympic one in the same time,” he said.

“And there’s the example of (world record holder Sergey) Bubka, who has just one Olympic title but was six times world champion.

“But in a sporting sense, the difference is not far off, the level of performance required is the same. In fact, everything’s similar apart from the fact there are no Olympic rings!”

Lavillenie said his poor performance in Daegu, albeit a podium-showing one, was now behind him.

“I didn’t really manage things well two years ago, but here I can do it more easily, notably because I have a bit more margin coming into it,” he said.

“I’m confident because I’ve vaulted many times over 5.90m in very varied conditions this season.

“In other years, I lacked consistency, I was too eager on vaults I had to nail. Now, when the bar’s set at around 5.90m, nobody’s gone over but me. It’s a slight advantage that I enjoy.”

But he said that competition would be rife in the Russian capital.

A surprise could come from “someone you don’t expect, and this year that could be everybody, given the season we’re having”, Lavillenie said, naming German duo Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe, and Cuban Lazaro Borges, silver medallist in Daegu, as particular threats.

“Personally I always have to pay attention because mistakes can come quickly. You cannot rest on your laurels.”

Lavillenie hinted that he might also be on hand to give his brother Valentin, also a competitor in the pole vault in Moscow, a few hints.

“With my experience, I know what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “Afterwards, it’s up to him to do his work to get qualified.

“All vaulters are close in terms of level. We’ll see if he’s cut out for the championships or not.”



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