05 MAR 2011 General News

Lavillenie’s 6.03m clearance dazzles Paris - European Indoor Champs, Day 2

Renaud Lavillenie after his 6.03m clearance in Paris (Getty Images)Renaud Lavillenie after his 6.03m clearance in Paris (Getty Images) © Copyright

Paris, FranceThe French party that began on the opening night of the 31st European Indoor championships with Antoinette Nana Djimou Ida’s victory in the Pentathlon continued on Saturday with two more national records by the home team, capped with Renaud Lavillenie’s spectacular 6.03m clearance in the Pole Vault.

Lavillenie moves up to No. 3 all-time

As one of the strongest pre-meet favourites, Lavillenie helped attract a near-capacity crowd of 8600-plus to the Palais Omnisport Paris-Bercy today (5), but he got off to a somewhat rocky start.

Needing two attempts before clearing his opening 5.61m, Lavillenie didn't get into his rhythm until his first attempt success at 5.81m, which finally put him into the lead. He needed all three tries before negotiating 5.91m, but at 6.03, only one. After he nudged it on the way down, the bar bounced and danced a bit on the standards but it didn't follow him into the pit, finally allowing the compact Lavillenie to eclipse Jean Galfione (6.00m) as the national record holder.

“Winning in Bercy, keeping my title, jumping more than six metres, all of this the same day, it's just amazing.,” said Lavillenie, whose previous best was 5.93m indoors and 6.01m outdoors.

Still flying high from an impromptu victory lap, he had the bar raised to a would-be 6.16m World record, prompting a bow from the standard bearer, Sergey Bubka, who was among the spectators in the stands. His first two attempts were admirable but not particularly close, but he was happy to try. “I knew that this competition would be my last chance to beat the record this winter. I didn't want to miss it.”

His winning clearance elevated the Lavillenie to the No. 3 spot on the all-time list indoors, trailing only Bubka and 2008 Olympic champion Steve Hooker, who’s scaled 6.06.

His teammate Jerome Clavier topped 5.76m to take the silver, while German Malte Mohr topped Pole Pawel Wojciechowski for third on countback at 5.71m.

Djhone dominates 400m

Moments before Lavillenie’s final World record attempt, Leslie Djhone crushed the field and his own national record in the 400m. In the lead with 200 metres to go, he built onto it considerably before powering through the finish in 45.54, well under his previous 45.85 best from last year.

“Finally I've got a gold medal. And in such a beautiful way,” said Djhone, who took European bronze in 2006.

Thomas Schneider (46.42) of Germany and Briton Richard Buck (46.62) rounded out the podium.

In the women’s race, Denisa Rosolova from the Czech Republic swept past Russians Olesya Krasnomovets and Kseniya Zadorina over the final 50 metres to score an upset victory in 51.73, a personal best for the 24-year-old.

Krasnomovets (51.73) and Kseniya Zadorina (52.03) held on to take the minor medals while Bulgaria’s Vania Stambolova, the European leader before the weekend, left home empty-handed a well beaten fourth in 52.58.

Ukhov tops 2.38m, close at WR again

Ivan Ukhov did what he came to Paris to do: successfully defend his High Jump title and then take a few more stabs at Javier Sotomayor’s 2.44m World record which celebrated its 22nd anniversary yesterday (4 March).

A miss early on at 2.29m temporarily put the 24-year-old in second place behind Czech Jaroslav Baba, who produced a spotless card through 2.34m. But the tone changed at 2.36m with Ukhov sailing clear with his first attempt. Baba missed and then passed at the height before watching the Russian clear 2.38m on his first go as well, equalling his own world lead. With one jump left, Baba again passed, this time to 2.40m where he finally bowed out.

His victory secure, Ukhov immediately had the bar raised to 2.44m and with his opening effort came tantalizingly close. With plenty of height, he grazed the bar on the way down illustrating that he’s become quite comfortable with the would-be record height.

Aleksandr Shustov, the outdoor champion, also cleared 2.34m and took bronze.

Greek Konstadinos Baniotis cleared a personal best 2.32m, the height which secured Ukhov gold two years ago, but here it was only good enough for fourth.

Bayer and Farah defend

Teddy Tamgho’s double ambitions came to an end today courtesy of Sebastian Bayer’s convincing victory in the Long Jump. While the defending champion didn’t come close to reproducing the 8.71m leap from Turin two years ago, the German’s 8.16m was well ahead of Kafetien Gomis (8.03) to claimed silver for France. Dane Morten Jensen reached 8.00m for third, just two centimetres ahead of Tamgho who returns to action in his main event on Sunday.

Although he argued the opposite, Mo Farah made his successful title defence in the 3000m appear relatively simple and straightforward. Running at the head of the pack and controlling much of the proceedings, the 27-year-old sprinted away from Azerbaijani Hayle Ibrahimov over the final 100 metres to cross the line unchallenged in 7:53.00.

“I wanted that,” Farah said. “I knew from experience that I needed to have something left in the tank so when he came at me I had something.” Next up? His Half Marathon debut on 20 March in New York.

Ibrahimov clocked 7:53.32 to take silver, with Turk Halil Akkas taking bronze.

Consistency key for La Mantia

Simona La Mantia made Italy’s first medal at these championships a gold one with a convincing victory in the Triple Jump. La Mantia, who surprised with a silver medal performance in Barcelona last summer, opened with a lacklustre 14.17m but improved to 14.60m in the second, the farthest in the world this season, and remained untouchable. Illustrating her return from several seasons of nagging injuries, she nailed 14.60m in the fifth round again.

Those leaps were 15 centimetres better than runner-up Olseya Zabara of Russia, whose 14.45m season’s best came in the third round. Slovak Dana Veldakova was third, her 14.39m also a season’s best. Snezana Rodic of Slovenia improved her career best twice to 14.35m to round out the top four.

Avdeyeva takes first Russian gold

The first title of the day went to Russian Anna Avdeyeva who took control of the Shot Put competition for good with an 18.70m toss in the second round. But Germany’s Christina Schwanitz the co-world leader at 18.87m, didn’t go down without a strong fight. The 25-year-old answered Avdeyeva with an 18.65m throw in the third round, but that was the best she could mustre on the day.

Josephine Terlecki’s opening round 18.09m personal best clinched a 2-3 finish for Germany.

Unheralded Martynova surprises in 1500m

Kicking past compatriot Yekaterina Martynova off the final turn, unheralded Yelena Arzhakova took the 1500m title to keep the distance in Russian hands. In a tactical race, the 21-year-old clocked 4:13.78, the slowest winning time since 1986, three years before Arzhakova was born. With a PB of just 4:08.05 (outdoors), Arzhakova couldn’t have been on the two many radars. With the exception perhaps of one of her coaches, Yekaterina Podkopayeva, who won the title in 1992 and 1994.

Nuria Fernandez, who won the outdoor title at home in Barcelona last summer, slipped by Martynova over the final few strides to take silver.

Lemaitre running like a winner

With Lavillenie and Clavier jumping in the Pole Vault and Gomis  and Tamgho going in the Long Jump, the crowd was well energised by the time Christophe Lemaitre was setting his blocks in the 60m semi-finals. Feeding off the vociferous fans, the 20-year-old triple European champion cruised to a 6.55 victory in the second of three semis, another personal best and European lead.

Meanwhile, Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu made his weekend ambitions clear with a dominating 6.61 victory in heat three with defending champion Dwain Chambers edging another Frenchman, Martial Mbandjock in the first heat, both credited with 6.61 as well.

Look out also for Brian Mariano who finished behind Lemaitre. The 26-year-old clocked 6.60, a new Dutch record.

In the women’s 60m semis, Olesya Povh is running like a winner as well. The rising Ukrainian star was relaxed during her 7.13 victory, the fastest of the round. Her teammate Mariya Ryemyen won the first heat in 7.16, setting up a strong 1-2 possibility. Frenchwomen Veronique Mang (7.20) and Myriam Soumare (7.18) finished second in both heats, keeping French medal hopes alive.

Spain figures largely in 800 and 1500 finals

Tomorrow's men's 1500m final will feature a trio of Spaniards - Manuel Olmedo, Diego Ruiz and Juan Carlos Higuero - but won't include any Britons or French. Indeed the biggest disappointment in the morning's qualifying was Frenchman Yoann Kowal's failure to move on from the third heat where he reached the line a disappointed fifth.

Likewise, the men's 800m final will feature two Spaniards and two Poles, among them reigning outdoor champion Marcin Lewandowski. In the women's race, the showdown will be between Briton Jenny Meadows and Russian Yevgeniya Zinurova, at 2:00.65 and 2:00.93, the fastest from the semis.

Jumps qualifying – teenagers Bengtsson and Kuchina bow out

In the women’s Pole Vault, 4.55m was the magic number. Nine women negotiated that height – Poland’s reigning World champion Anna Rogowska and Germans Elizaveta Ryzih and Silke Speigelburg sailed through the round without a miss. Not making the cut was teenage sensation Angelica Bengtsson, the 17-year-old Swede who raised the World junior record to 4.63m earlier this winter. The World junior and Youth Olympic Games champion wasn’t quite up to task here though, first running into trouble at 4.15m, which required two tries, before leaving the competition after three misses at 4.45m.

In the High Jump, seven women topped 1.94m to automatically advance. Pre-meet favourite and world leader Antonietta Di Martino of Italy and Russian Svetlana Shkolina produced perfect score cards before calling it a day while Spaniard Ruth Beitia, the World indoor silver medallist was the eighth qualifier, moving on after a perfect card through 1.92m.

The biggest casualty here was another Youth Olympic Games champion, Russia’s 18-year-old Mariya Kuchina, who earlier this season improved all the way to 1.97m. She also topped out at 1.92m but a first attempt miss at her opening 1.75m cost her dearly.

In the Long Jump, Russian Yuliya Pidluzhnaya led all qualifiers with her opening round 6.74m career best leap to call it an early day. Irene Pusterla of Switzerland was next, with a 6.71m national record. 6.58m was the cut-off – among those not making the grade were Russian Anna Nazarova the world leader at 6.89m coming in who could only manage 6.57m and Spain’s Concepcion Montaner, the 2007 silver medallist.

The surprise in the heats of the women’s 3000m came in the second of two races when Turkey’s Alemitu Bekele, the European 5000m champion, dropped out when the leaders dropped left her behind. Turkey’s Sultan Haydar (9:03.50) and Layes Abdullayeva (9:00.80) were the heat winners in an opening round that only left three finishers out of tomorrow’s final. Briton Helen Clitheroe looked particularly strong, controlling much of the race before Abdullayeva snuck by her just before the finish of heat one.

Sebrle the overnight Heptathlon leader

Competition resumes on Sunday morning with the Heptathlon 60m Hurdles with Roman Sebrle carrying a narrow 31 point lead into the second day. The Czech, looking for his fourth win after collecting gold in 2002, 2005 and 2007, tallied 3493 points, ahead of Belarusian Andrei Krauchanka (3462) and Frenchman Nadir El Fassi (3439).

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

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