Lavillenie’s pole vault win-streak falls to earth

Renaud Lavillenie’s unique winning run of 22 pole vault competitions came to an abrupt and unexpected end here in the 1912 Olympic Stadium tonight as he failed to record a mark at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League meeting. 

Having earned his third European title in Zurich at the weekend, the Frenchman had arrived here at the DN Galan event with the continuing ambition of going through the season unbeaten.

But that aim fell away as he entered the competition at 5.60 metres, with only three rivals still in the competition, only to fail at all three attempts.

As he lay on the mat after his third and final effort, Lavillenie whacked his hand down once in annoyance before rising with resignation to that most unfamiliar of experiences – defeat.

Within a couple of minutes he had his composure and was diligently handing out pre-signed cards to the eager hands of shrill youngsters gathered by the hoardings beyond the final line.

“I didn’t hurt myself, it was just really hard tonight,” said the Olympic champion, who winning sequence had already far outstripped the record of 14 amassed by the man whose 21-year-old world record he broke with 6.16m in February, Sergey Bubka.

“I was really close to the bar and the pole slipped in my hand so I was scared.

“This was the most difficult competition of the year for me.

“It was really hard and I was tired from the European Championships.

“I tried my best and unfortunately it was not good. Now I will rest and try to return to my best.”

Taking full advantage of this momentous lapse was Konstantinos Filippidis, Greece’s IAAF World Indoor champion, who won with 5.60m on countback from second-placed Piotr Lisek of Poland and Xue Changrui of China.

Things soon went awry for another Olympic champion, Australia’s recently crowned Commonwealth champion Sally Pearson, as she was disqualified for false-starting in the 100 metres hurdles.

As the pale Australian, who had looked full of energy as she bounced up and down before going to the blocks, looked mournfully on, Queen Harrison led a United States 1-2-3 in 12.66.

Nia Ali was second in 12.96sec and Pearsons’ predecessor as Olympic champion, Dawn Harper-Nelson third in 12.99.

Michael Rodgers of the US shared Pearson’s fate in the men’s 100m, where he is Diamond Race leader.

Nesta Carter of Jamaica took advantage to win in a season’s best of 9.96.

Jennifer Simpson of the United States showed her heart for battle in winning a 1500m in brutal conditions at Stockholm's IAAF Diamond League meeting ©AFP/Getty ImagesJennifer Simpson of the United States showed her heart for battle in winning a 1500m in brutal conditions at Stockholm’s IAAF Diamond League meeting ©AFP/Getty Images

American Jennifer Simpson produced one of the performances of the night to win a brutally hard, talent-stacked women’s 1500m in cold and damp conditions.

At the bell, Ethiopia’s world indoor record holder Genzebe Dibaba had a 10-metres lead over the field, with The Netherlands’s new European champion Sifan Hassan leading the chase.

As Dibaba reached the final bend, Hassan was ready to strike, but Simpson was also moving up as home hope Abeba Aregawi, the world champion, was falling back.

Hassan waited until the home straight to make her challenge on the outside, but as she did so Simpson moved outside her at even greater speed. Dibaba had no final answer, although she withstood the Dutch woman’s sprint to take second place in 4min 01.00sec, with Simpson clocking 4:00.38.

Hassan, who leads this year’s world lists with 3:57.00, virtually tottered home in 4:01.62.

All three looked like they were wading through ankle deep mud by the close.

“It was a crazy race,” said Hassan.

“They went off far too fast and then everyone got so tired – I just lost myself.”

Simpson commented: “I am so pleased with my race.

“When the wind was blowing and the weather was coming down on us I kept telling myself the most relaxed person will win tonight.

“Over the last 400m I had a little bit of doubt in my mind but I saw that they were struggling and I told myself ‘just keep going, keep going’ and I ran harder than I have ever run in my life.”

Muktar Edris of Ethiopia won the men’s 5,000m in a world season’s best of 12:54.83, holding off the challenge of two Kenyans, Thomas Longosiwa and Caleb Ndiku, after the three had broken clear of a flagging Galen Rupp of the United States as the race approached the bell.

Muktar Edris of Ethiopia celebrates 5000m victory at the 1912 Olympic Stadium in 12min 54.83sec, the fastest time run this year ©AFP/Getty ImagesMuktar Edris of Ethiopia celebrates 5000m victory at the 1912 Olympic Stadium in 12min 54.83sec, the fastest time run this year ©AFP/Getty Images

American Tianna Bartoletta, who arrived here with the top four women’s long jumps of 2014 to her credit, announced on the eve of this meeting that she was competitive about everything, including “who can load the dishwasher fastest”.

There was no mistaking her competitive spirit on the runway as, with the sun dipping below the rim of the stadium and evening growing chill, she produced an inspired winning jump with her final effort of 6.98m, overtaking the second round effort of 6.94m which seemed likely to earn France’s newly re-crowned European champion Eloyse Lesueur victory.





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