By VAULTER Magazine April 2012 Issue
When you participate in most sports, an injury seems to be a possibility every day that you train or compete. The best in the world are not exempt to those injuries and that is the case of Renaud Lavillenie who broke his hand while training last December. An injury to the hand could be devastating for a pole vault athlete, but after a successful surgery Lavillenie is back competing and has his sights on more Gold.
The pole, which broke in two places; one at the 2/3mark and one at the left hand is believed to have been faulty during practice that day. The break at the left hand is the one that did the most damage even though he did land awkwardly on his lower back. All that happened to that area was some bruising, but thankfully there was no damage to the lower back region which could have potentially affected his career in a more negative way.
Although the injury to Lavillenie was never considered career threatening in itself, but every time an athlete suffers an injury there is a psychological trauma that comes with it. The psychological damage can be as limiting to the athlete if not more so than the injury itself. Lavillenie however would have none of that.
The recovery was going according to plan, but like any other competitive athlete, the time that he was not jumping was time full of frustration. “The most difficult part was at the end when I was able to do anything except jump,” said Lavillenie in a recent interview when discussing his recovery.
The time that was not spent jumping due to the injury was not wasted. Lavillenie took the time to learn about himself; he realized that getting over the injury would not be something that an athlete of his caliber would have a problem doing. The injury could have taken a lesser athlete down, because as a pole vault champion you have to rely on more than just your ability. You also have to rely on the pole itself which this time failed him.
Not Much An Athlete Can Do
“My pole just broke during a jump, without technical mistake,” remembered Lavillenie while talking about the incident. Most of the time when a pole breaks there is some sort of technical mistake, but a pole can also get damaged before the jump even when there is no mistake in part of the runner. That is why pole jumping is one of the most mentally demanding sports there are.
The Support At Home
Lavillenie was not alone in his recovery from the injury. His fiancé Anais Pourmarat is also a jumper and has been with him for about four years. Pourmarat does not have the international recognition that Lavillenie has, but she is recognized nationally as one of the best women jumpers in France. Until recently they both had the same trainer, but now she has a trainer of her own; that is not to say that Renaud does not try to play coach once in a while.
With a couple of vault jumpers you would think that they have nothing else to talk about, but Pourmarat is glad that other topics also come into conversations; “It’s true than we talk a lot about pole vault but we don’t talk only about that, fortunately!” she said when discussing their relationship.
Even with the different amounts of exposure that they get in the sport, they still find a lot of time to train together, and the injury could have put a halt on the training but one good thing about the injury was the timing. The fact that the injury happened around the holidays meant that not much pole training time was lost. “It was the Holidays, Christmas and New Years’ eve, so we used to spend more time with the family than on the track,” Lavillenie said.
No Stopping Now
After the injury it was time to get back to training, and though the injury would be a setback for other athletes, Lavillenie seemed to get right back to the levels he was used to. This year he has already gotten gold once in Istanbul at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships. The training has gotten to pre-injury levels.
That is not something that is out character for Lavillenie; in fact he broke Jean Galfione’s French indoor record in vaulting which was 6 meters. Lavillenie broke the record with 6.03 in March of 2011, and although the jump in Istanbul was not as high it was high enough to get the gold. Istanbul was not the first competition after the injury. He got back on track with a 5.72 meter high jump to start followed by a 5.82m jump in Donetsk, Ukraine at the Pole Vault Stars competition.
An Eye On The Future
Because of Lavillenie’s injury, some of the competitions that were planned for earlier in the year had to be cancelled, but now that Renaud is back in competition the eye is on the future. If you look at the sports calendar for pole jumpers you will notice what is happening this summer. The London Summer Olympics are what every pole jumper is looking at this year and Lavillenie is no different. He knows that the weather conditions in London can make jumping more difficult. There is always a chance of rain and wind in London and that can make competing very difficult.
He has been called one of the top hopes for France in the London Olympic Games this summer. His comeback has been on a good track getting some great jumps along the way. He has been clearing the 6 meter mark on a regular basis and has the work ethic that the top athletes have. Injury or no injury Lavillenie should be ready to compete in the summer and if he keeps his comeback going the way that it is now going, he will be a favorite hold his flag high with gold around his neck.