After crowning his career with pole vault Olympic gold, Renaud Lavillenie has decided to switch coaches. Since 2008 he has been coached by Damien Inocencio, but last week announced that in future he would be guided by former vaulter, Phillipe D’Encausse who cleared 5.75 in 1993. Despite the change of coach there will not be a change of city. Both coaches work in Clermont Ferrand.

“It has been a difficult decision to take,” confessed Lavillenie in a statement. “And I took a long time to come to it. I have a lot of respect for Damien. He has made me what I am today. I cannot complain about our work together, but I need to open myself up to new challenges, to question my choices and my career. An athlete’s life is short and full of plateaux and risk taking.”

Interviewed on local French radio, D’Encausse said: “Renaud asked me if I could take care of him for the coming years and after thinking it about it I decided it would be an honour to be asked by an Olympic champion. If a football manager is asked to manage Real Madrid and he does not go he might as well find another career.”

Inocencio called Lavillenie’s decision: “irrational. He told me when he got back from holidays on Wednesday. He has done the grand slam this year and he has the world record in his legs. I find it sad.”

Lavillenie, who has just turned 26, has enjoyed a dream year. After the world indoor title in the winter, he lifted his second European gold in Helsinki at the start of the summer (he has also won two European indoor golds) before going on to lift the Olympic title and culminating his year with the Golden League title. The only title missing from his role call is the world crown. So far he has two world bronzes from Berlin and Daegu. In 2013, he will have his third chance when the world championships are held in Moscow. Lavillenie holds both indoor and outdoor national records. His superior indoor mark of 6.03 (6.01 outdoor) was set at the 2011 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Paris.

“It is a hard decision which might surprise people,” added Lavillenie in a column in L’Equipe on Saturday. “But I took it because I feel I needed a change. I sensed that it was the right moment.” Lavillenie then hinted at discord between himself and his now former coach: “I have great respect for our work, but such a relationship is purely on a sporting level. It is a disagreement at a personal level.”


Renaud Lavillenie

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