The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
With no one attempting the automatic qualification height of 5.70m and the 14 men who had gone above 5.50m or more agreeing with the officials, it was not worth expending further energy to remove 2 men given that 6 were tied for ninth with a best of 5.50.
Given the relatively low qualification required most of the favourites progressed and so it’s easier to begin with the casualties. These included Poland’s reigning World champion Pawel Wojciechowski, which doesn’t come as a great surprise as he’s been injured this year, Ukraine’s Denys Yurchenko, the Olympic bronze medallist, South American record holder Fabio Da Silva, and USA’s Derek Miles, 4th in Beijing and at 39 competing in his fourth Olympics. These four made up half of the athletes who no heighted today!
Of those who made a height Cuba’s Lazaro Borges, last year’s World silver medallist was also short of the required consistency ending his day with a best of 5.50. He was one of three at this height who lost out on count back at earlier heights to those who did make the final after clearing this bar.
Leading the qualifiers, the only two men to succeed at 5.65, both on the first time of asking were France’s World Indoor and European outdoor champion Renaud Lavillenie, and Germany’s Raphael Holzdeppe, who finished third behind Lavillenie at the continental championships and was 8th in Beijing four years ago.
However, the German who finished second behind the Frenchman in both Istanbul (WIC) and Helsinki (Ech), this year was Bjorn Otto, and he was one of those qualifying with 5.50. Those also included Olympic champion Steven Hooker who in recent weeks has found a glimmer of his old form.
Malte Mohr makes it three Germans in the final. He beat Otto in the national championships this summer and like his compatriot made the cut at 5.50. The others qualifying at this height were Spain’s Igor Bychkov, Czech Jan Kudlicka, and the host nations Steve Lewis.
Sandwiched between the top pair of vaulters today and the nine at 5.50, were six men who cleared 5.60. These were, in third best overall Greek Konstadinos Filippidis, who was sixth in at the World Championships in Daegu last summer, Beijing silver medallist Russia’s Yevgeniy Lukyanenko, USA’s 2007 Brad Walker who has a PB of 6.04 (2008), two-time World silver medallist Romain Mesnil of France, Russian Dmitriy Starodubtsev who was fifth in Beijing, and Poland’s Lukasz Michalski, 24, who was fourth in Daegu.
The leading two commented:
Holzdeppe: "I think it's looking pretty good. I'm feeling good. I'll relax today and tomorrow and then I'll try and get a place among the top five on Friday. Of course, it's everyone's dream to win a medal at an Olympic Games. It's not going to be impossible but it will be very hard."
"For myself, I'd also be satisfied if I equal or better my personal best (5.82m) and end up in the top five. If everything is going perfect, I could jump 5.90 but first of all I will just try and stay focused - as long I don't end up being fourth having cleared the same height as the third-ranked guys it's all good."
"The (weather) conditions were OK. There were few changing winds during our warm-up but nothing too distracting. There is wind in every stadium and it was definitely not as strong as it was during the women's (pole vault)."
Lavillenie: "I had a good feeling today. The important thing is to get to the final. I will prepare for it, I want to get to it not too nervous and not too relaxed. I want to do well, I am not here just to have some fun.
"Today I have achieved what I expected and this is a big satisfaction. The final will be a difficult competition. In pole vaulting everything can happen, it does not matter exactly who jumped what today, Friday will be a new game.
"I decided to jump 5.65 (metres) even if I did not have to, because I wanted to show everyone that I was right here. I did these extra jumps because I wanted to have a feel of the track and of the place in preparation for the final."