Renaud Lavillenie at the 2013 IAAF Diamond League in Eugene (© Kirby Lee)
The world’s best pole vaulter won the Prefontaine Classic last year, in one of the highest quality vault competition ever held in the USA. Renauld Lavillenie returns to the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene on 31 May with an additional accolade – the title of world record holder – and he’s still looking for more.
Pole vault aficionados will marvel at the field assembled. The last time someone other than Sergey Bubka held a world record in the men’s pole vault, Lavillenie was not yet born. The 27-year-old Frenchman changed that in February, with an indoor 6.16m vault that now rates as the highest height ever cleared.
Lavillenie, the Olympic champion, has won the Diamond Trophy every year since it was introduced in 2010 and this year he will be trying to win it for a fifth time.
Raphael Holzdeppe has something Lavillenie doesn’t – the title of reigning world champion. The world junior record-holder is only 24 and aside from his world title from last year, he also earned bronze medals at the 2012 Olympics and European Championships.
His fellow German, Malte Mohr, earlier this year took the silver medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships, repeating his position from the 2010 edition of the championships. Both he and Holzdeppe are looking to become Germany’s fourth six-meter vaulter.
Greece’s Konstadinos Filippidis succeeded Lavillenie as the world indoor champion, taking gold in Sopot earlier this year.
Czech record-holder Jan Kudlicka completes the podium of reigning medallists from the IAAF World Indoor Championships. The world and Olympic finalist will be competing in the US for the first time.
While Lavillenie is the defending Pre Classic champion, USA’s Brad Walker still owns the meeting record with his 6.04m national record. The 32-year-old is the 2007 world champion and 2006 world indoor champion, and finished just outside the medals at last year’s World Championships.
Brazil is preparing for the 2016 Olympics, and it looks like their pole vaulters are right on schedule. World junior champion Thiago Braz, 20, is already the South American record-holder with a best of 5.83m, breaking the mark set just two weeks prior by compatriot Augusto Dutra. Both will be competing in Eugene.
Rounding out this superb field is Asian champion Xue Changrui of China, who turns 23 on the day of the competition, and will be looking for a high bar clearance as a birthday present.
Organisers for the IAAF
2014 IAAF Diamond League calendar
Doha, QAT – 9 May
Shanghai, CHN – 18 May
Eugene, USA – 31 May
Rome, ITA – 5 Jun
Oslo, NOR – 11 Jun
New York, USA – 14 Jun
Lausanne, SUI – 3 Jul
Paris, FRA – 5 Jul
Glasgow, GBR – 11-12 Jul
Monaco, MON – 18 Jul
Stockholm, SWE – 21 Aug
Birmingham, GBR – 24 Aug
Zurich, SUI – 28 Aug
Brussels, BEL – 5 Sep