There was a brief moment of tension for pre-event favourite Renaud Lavillenie in this morning’s qualifying round of the men’s Pole Vault.
The Olympic champion from France was the last athlete to enter the competition, by which point 12 other athletes – including his younger brother Valentin – had cleared 5.55m. He needed to clear 5.65m to guarantee his place in the final, where he hopes to win his first World Championships gold medal.
But Lavillenie failed on his first attempt, and for a brief moment it looked as though he may be in trouble. However, his very next effort saw him sail over the bar and into the final. It will be the first time since 1993 that brothers have featured in a World Championships Pole Vault final.
Czech record-holder Jan Kudlicka was the only other man to go over 5.65m in a qualifying round where several athletes under-performed and missed making the final.
Cuba’s Lazaro Borges, the silver medallist in Daegu two years ago, could only manage 5.40m to finish 21st overall. Brazil’s World junior champion Thiago Braz da Silva also cleared just 5.40m, some 43cm shy of the South American record he set earlier this year.
Olympic finalist Steve Lewis and 2003 World champion Giuseppe Gibilisco crashed out of qualifying, failing to clear a height.
All the other genuine medal contenders made it through, though. All three German athletes – Bjorn Otto, Raphael Holzdeppe and Malte Mohr – qualified with ease, all of them clearing 5.55m.
USA’s Brad Walker, the 2007 World champion, and Greek record-holder Kostadinos Filippidis both advanced with first-time clearances at 5.55m. Brazil’s Augusto de Oliveira, who briefly held the South American record earlier this season before Da Silva bettered it, needed three tries at 5.40m but went over 5.55m at the first time of asking to qualify for Monday’s final.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF