STEVE LEWIS has made himself an outside bet for an Olympic medal by setting a new British pole vault record in Poland.
Lewis, 26, cleared 5.82m, 18 days before he competes in the Olympic Stadium, and beat a field including world champion Pawel Wojciechowski and Olympic champion Steve Hooker to move to fifth in the world.
Twice Commonwealth Games medallist Lewis, above, has made the past two World Championship finals, finishing seventh and ninth. But in the last Olympics in Beijing he failed to clear a height in the qualifying round.
Lewis had already sealed victory in Poland and went for the record, clearing 5.82m at the second attempt, and said: “I’ve been ready to jump high for the last couple of weeks and finding a competition with good conditions has been tough.
“I took the opportunity to test my London pole selection. Turns out it’s pretty good. Jumping 5.82m has been a goal for four years and to achieve it in my last competition before the Olympics is amazing.” American champion Brad Walker, German No 1 Malte Mohr and world indoor and twice European champion Renaud Lavillenie were all beaten by Lewis.
Previously the best British vault was the 5.81m by Nick Buckfield, set indoors 10 years ago. Buckfield also held the outdoor record of 5.80m, which he set 14 years ago.
Lewis now heads to the British athletics team’s preparation camp in Portugal to prepare for the Games.
He added: “I am excited to join all my team-mates and start preparing for the Games. It’s going to be a big three weeks physically, mentally and emotionally. I can’t wait.”
Hannah England, fighting to get fit for the 1500m at the Olympics, was second in Solihull in 4:10.43, her last before the Games.
England, who was last in her comeback race at Crystal Palace the previous weekend, said: “I’m happy to improve by four seconds in eight days. It felt a lot more normal.”Record vault makes Lewis a contender.
by: John Wragg