Before he took to the pole vault runway at Hayward Field on Saturday evening, Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie was 36th on the world rankings, but normal service has been emphatically resumed.

On the second day of the fourth IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon, Lavillenie is once more the man the rest have to be concerned about.

Lavillenie, the Olympic and European champion – indoors and out – won the event with 5.95m on his second attempt.

It was the best jump in 2013 by 13 centimetres and even his presence seemed to inspire the rest of the field with the next three athletes – all Germans – going past the 5.83m that Brad Walker had cleared to establish his place at the top of the listings.

Lavillenie’s performance was one of three victories for European athletes in front of a huge crowd on a warm afternoon in an outstanding competition.

Zuzana Hejnova, of the Czech Republic, ran away from the rest of the field to win the 400m hurdles and Robert Harting won the discus in style. Both achieved their successes with world leading marks, while Britain’s Mo Farah was second in the 5000m, beaten in an outdoor final for the first time since 2011.

It was Lavillenie’s first major appearance of the winter having registered a best of 5.50m in Iowa at the end of April, a height which he beat with his first vault on Saturday when he cleared 5.51m.

He passed on 5.61m, went over 5.71m at the third attempt, missed out 5.78m before 5.84m was achieved with his first vault and then after 5.90m with his third, the 5.95m gave him victory and a Diamond League record.

Bjorn Otto was second with 5.90m, Raphael Holzdeppe was third with 5.84m and Malte Mohr was fourth with 5.84m.

All three had achieved season’s bests and it was the same top three from both last summer’s European Athletics Championships in Helsinki and the Olympic Games in London.

Twice a bronze medallist at the World Championships, Lavillenie is now the clear favourite to complete the full set of golds in Moscow in August.

He said: “I am really happy. It was a tough competition…5.95m – I really went looking deep within me.”
Hejnova is having quite a start to the outdoor season.

Third in London, the Czech Republic runner had so much control in her race that she had it won with 200m left.

She was so dominant in the way she controlled herself at the start, before slowly moving her way through the field on the back straight, that by the time she made her move for victory, the rest had no response as Hejnova won in 53.70.

To such an extent that Russia’s Olympic champion Natalya Antyukh was last in 57.74 and Lashinda Demus, of the USA, who was second in London, was back in fifth here in 55.25.

Hejnova had led the world rankings with 53.79 from the second Diamond League meeting of the season in Shanghai.

But it was not so much the fact that she ran faster this time. It was the manner of the display that showed she is in total command, no matter who else is in the field.

Her victory was by more than a second, once more underlining how well she ran, as American Georganne Moline was second in 54.75 and Kaliese Spencer, of Jamaica, was third in 55.03.

Harting was top of the world lists with 68.31m from Wiesbaden two weeks ago but he extended that to 69.75m to win on Saturday.

Poland’s Piotr Malachowski, who had won in Shanghai, was second with 68.19m and Ehsan Hadadi, of Iran, third with 65.63m.

Harting’s winning throw came in the second round having produced a fine 67.16m with his opening effort as Malachowski reached 66.50m.

The Polish thrower’s 68.19m came in the next round, his best of the season, but he could not find enough to overtake Harting, the Olympic, world and European champion.

Their duels are far from over, with the European Athletics Team Championships in Gateshead on June 22-23 a setting where they are set to clash again.

That weekend the presence of Farah will arguably bring the biggest noise from the home crowd, but the double Olympic and European champion could not match the finishing kick of Kenyan Edwin Cheruiyot Soi in Eugene.

Not since he finished second in the 10,000m at the World Championships in Daegu two years ago has Farah lost a major distance race.

But he has been suffering with illness in his preparation, the main reason he switched from the 10,000m here to the 5000m.

He sat in the pack for the majority of the race before moving in front with two laps to go, but when Soi broke away with 170 metres left to win in 13:04.75, Farah did not have enough to catch him. He was second in 13:05.88, the best by a European this year, with Ethiopian Yenew Alamirew third in 13:06.45.
Farah will not worry too much, even though he had not lost a 5000m since Zurich in 2010.

As he tweeted: “Finished second today..!!! I will be back for sure..!!”

Ukraine’s Olha Saladuha, the European triple jump champion, finished second with 14.85m, but it was the best by a European this year. And because of the wind reading of her rival, it is top of the world rankings.
It looked as though it was going to take her to victory as she took the lead with it in the fourth round, overtaking Caterine Ibarguen’s 14.83m.
The Columbian hit back with her next jump, leaping to 14.93m, with Jamaica’s Kimberly Williams third with 14.78m.
But for rankings purposes, Ibarguen’s +2.1 advantage does not count. Saladuha’s was +1.7, inside the limit of two.

Europe’s athletes had no response to Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim in the high jump as he triumphed with a stunning 2.40m to move to joint fourth on the all-time world lists.

Russia’s Aleksey Dmitrik was in fourth with 2.30m, Britain’s Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz sixth with 2.26m, with European Athletics Indoor champion Sergey Mudrov next with 2.26m and then his fellow Russian Ivan Ukhov, the Olympic champion, eighth with 2.21m.


Renaud 2 Vaulter Magazine
Renaud 2 Vaulter Magazine

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