With a world-leading 6.03m pole vault clearance at the Jablonec Indoor Gala on Saturday (5), Renaud Lavillenie showed that his early season problems are well and truly behind him.
The world record-holder struggled with ankle and knee problems in his first few competitions of the year. But a 6.02m win in Clermont-Ferrand last month proved to be a turning point and he followed that up six days later with a 5.93m victory at the French Championships.
With the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 now less than two weeks away, Lavillenie appears to be hitting his top form as he seeks to regain the world indoor title he first won in 2012.
The Frenchman opened his series with a first-time clearance at 5.74m, a height only one other athlete – Jan Kudlicka of the Czech Republic – managed to successfully negotiate. Kudlicka exited the competition with three failures at the next height, 5.83m, while Lavillenie returned to the runway with the bar at 5.90m and cleared it on his first try.
He then raised the bar to 6.03m and needed just two attempts to get over it, brushing it slightly. He ended his series with three tries at 6.10m, some of which were close.
Earlier in the competition, Emmanouil Karalis of Greece set a world U18 best of 5.54m, adding one centimetre to the mark he set last month.
Kilty bounces back
World indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty was disqualified for a false start in his semifinal at last weekend’s British Indoor Championships and subsequently declined selection for Portland. But nevertheless he lined up in Jablonec, his final race of the indoor season, feeling as though he had a point to prove.
After winning his heat in 6.59, he stormed through to win the final in a season’s best of 6.50, the second-fastest mark of his career behind the 6.49 with which he won the world indoor title in 2014. Fellow Briton Theo Etienne, just 19 years old, clocked a PB of 6.56 in second.
In the women’s event, Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye equalled her own national record to win the final in 7.10, having clocked 7.11 in the heats. Slovenia’s Maja Mihalinec set PBs of 7.25 in the heats and 7.24 in the final.
Britain’s Tiffany Porter is another athlete who is clearly rounding into form at the right time. The European champion set a season’s best of 7.93 in the heats of the 60m hurdles before speeding to 7.89 in the final.
Croatia’s Andrea Ivancevic was second in 7.98, having set a national record of 7.94 in the heats. World bronze medallist Alina Talay ran 7.98 in the heats, but clipped the second hurdle in the final and lost her rhythm, jogging home in last place.
The closest event of the night was the men’s 60m hurdles. USA’s Jarret Eaton had to pull out a season’s best of 7.54 to beat Hungary’s Balazs Baji (7.56) and USA’s Jeff Porter (7.57).
Much to the delight of the crowd, there were two Czech victories, courtesy of Tomas Stanek and Radek Juska.
Stanek unleashed a PB of 21.30m to move from fourth to first with his final throw of the shot put, handing IAAF World Indoor Tour winner Tim Nedow his first defeat of the 2016 indoor season. Two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski was third with 20.40m while world junior champion Konrad Bukowiecki was fourth with 20.37m.
European indoor silver medallist Radek Juska leapt a season’s best of 8.03m to comfortably win the long jump by 27 centimetres.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF