Björn Otto has saved the best till last. After two silver medals at the European championships and Olympic Games, the 34-year-old German shot into the world lead when he looped over 6.01m last night at the second attempt in the Domspringen, a special pole vault meeting, in Aachen.
It was not only the best pole vault in the world this year but a German record displacing Tim Lobinger’s 15-year old mark of 6.00 from the summit of the German all-time rankings.
The special pole vault meeting was staged against the dramatic backdrop of the cathedral in the old centre of Aachen in front of 5000 spectators and under floodlight. As Otto prepared to take his record jump the Eye of the Tiger was blasting out of the loudspeakers and the atmosphere was electric, raised to fever pitch by comperes.
Karsten Dilla and Molte Mohr had long been left behind at 5.56 as the Bayer Uerdingen athlete headed for his historic jump. On a raised 50m runway with the spectators looking up from street level, Otto began his run-up. On either side of the bar, specially constructed stands had been raised and were packed with expectant faces as Otto clawed his way up and cleanly over the bar to scenes of delirium. Even his fellow athletes joined in the general hysteria, leaping up onto the runway in recognition of the feat and embracing him.
There were altogether 12 competitors with two lone foreigners, Robbert-Jan Jansen of the Netherlands who finished 4th with a clearance of 5.41m and Brad Walker of the United States 7th with 5.21m. But the night belonged to Otto: “The atmosphere is incredible and the spectators closer than ever,” said Otto. “It gives us a lift.” It was also a meeting record, beating the previous mark of 5.90m held by Mohr.
This is the third time Otto has won in Aachen, but it was last night that he entered the history books in this ancient seat of German kings.
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