Renaud Lavillenie of France celebrates an attempt during the Men's Pole Vault Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 10, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Albi, France

Lavillenie the star but Albi also witnesses fast sprinting

USA won 12 out of the 20 events of the Décanation yesterday evening (15) in Albi, a competition which was highlighted by some fine sprint times on the flat and over the barriers, and the victory of a home favourite.

The only individual Olympic champion from London who was competing was France’s Renaud Lavillenie who didn’t expect to jump high only four days after his arrival back in France. A deluge of rain which fell during the afternoon forced the organisation to delay the competition, until it gradually eased and then stopped and allowed a good level of performances, and Lavillenie actually produced one of them.

The Olympic Pole Vault champion opened his competition unusually low by his own standard, at 5.33. "As expected, I had no feelings in my legs, but I’ve been used to compete in difficult condition all year".

He was successful at 5.53, but needed two jumps to leap over 5.63. At this stage, Russian Kucheryanu was still in contention for the victory. 5.73 turned out to be the decisive height as the Russuan failed three times while the Frenchman, reinvigorated by the encouragement of 8000 spectators, got it at his first try. The bar was now raised to 5.83, which he jumped at his second attempt. This was the only French victory of the day. Feeling better and better, he even asked 5.90 but it was too high for Lavillenie who had been over his expectations anyway.

"I used a reduced run-up of 16 strides instead of 20, that’s why I’m so surprised to have jumped that high!"

Justin Gatlin, on the other hand, was expecting a good performance after having called Albi’s track a very fast one. The bronze medallist at 100m in London with 9.79, the American ran about as fast, with 9.81. However, the wind was +4.1m/s, pushing all the sprinters to fast times. British Dwain Chambers took second place in 10.05, from Jamaican Jason Young 10.10 and French Jimmy Vicaut 10.13. "It’s like a new season is starting, as I’m going to run in Linz (20) and Lausanne (23) in order to lower my times", said today’s winner.

The 110m sprint hurdles provided the most surprising performance given the circumstances, as David Oliver, not selected in London after his 5th place at US Trials, set his new season’s best of 13.07 (+0.3). This time would have given his the 3rd places at both Trials and Olympics, but like Gatlin, he is looking forward to the second part of the season in order to accomplish further achievements. The European Champion Sergey Shubenkov placed second in Albi with 13.12, in a much better race than the semi-final in London where he stumbled over the hurdles to miss the qualification for the final. Garfield Darien, European silver medallist was 3rd in 13.38.

American 800m runner Alysia Johnson Montano had the same tactic as usual, taking the lead of the race, but unlike London’s final where she faded to 5th place, she kept in front through the line to win in 1:58.97, from Russian Elena Kofanova.

Montano’s teammate Cory Martin, putting the Shot at 21.19, also beat a Russian, Maksim Sidorov, 21.03. Michelle Carter did the same in the women’s competition, with 18.87, from Irina Tarasova, 18.23.

Russian jumpers produced some performances of note like Anna Nazarova with 6.62 at Long Jump and Irina Gordeyeva with 1.95 at High Jump.

1500m specialist Yoann Kowal won the 3000m steeplechase in 8:23.37.

Final standings
1. USA 66 points
2. Russia 39 points
3. Germany 39 points
4. France 38 points

Click here for RESULTS

P-J Vazel for the IAAF