Renaud Lavillenie at the 2015 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene (© Kirby Lee)
This year’s Prefontaine Classic boasts a star-studded pole vault field with the top five finishers from last year’s World Championships set to compete at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene on 28 May.
World record-holder Renaud Lavillenie has dominated the event in recent years and is the only six-time winner of the IAAF Diamond Race. The French 29-year-old has won in Eugene for the past three years, and last year was victorious with a world-leading 6.05m, an outdoor PB and an IAAF Diamond League record.
His aim in 2016 will be to become just the second back-to-back Olympic champion in the men’s pole vault, and his competition in Eugene will be similar to the expected line-up at the Olympics in Rio. Each of his seven opponents in Eugene has defeated Lavillenie at least once.
His biggest rival will be Canada’s Shawn Barber. He won the world title in Beijing at age 21, making him the youngest world champion in the event since 1983. Barber kicked off 2016 by becoming the youngest-ever member of the elite six-metre club. He will turn 22 on 27 May, the day before the pole vault competition in Eugene.
Raphael Holzdeppe has twice beaten Lavillenie at major championships. The first of those was when winning the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, and he added a silver in Beijing last summer ahead of Lavillenie’s shared bronze.
Polish duo Pavel Wojciechowski and Piotr Lisek shared bronze medals with Lavillenie in Beijing last summer. Wojciechowski won the 2011 world title as a 22-year-old and holds the Polish record at 5.91m. Lisek, the European indoor bronze medallist, holds the Polish indoor record at 5.90m.
Konstadinos Filippidis is the world indoor champion. He set a Greek record of 5.91m last year.
Brazil’s Thiago Braz will be an obvious crowd favourite at the Rio Olympics. The 2012 world junior champion improved to 5.92m last year, breaking his own South American record.
Sam Kendricks has won the past three US titles and has a best of 5.86m, set indoors last year.
Organisers for the IAAF
2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
6 May – Doha, QAT
14 May – Shanghai, CHN
28 May – Eugene, USA
2 Jun – Rome, ITA
5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
18 Jun – New York City, USA
15 Jul – Monaco, MON
22-23 Jul – London, GBR
25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
27 Aug – Paris, FRA
1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
9 Sep – Brussels, BEL