Renaud Lavillenie in action in the pole vault (© Getty Images)
For a brief moment at the Perche Elite Tour meeting in the French city of Rouen on Saturday (25), it looked as though Renaud Lavillenie might suffer his first defeat of 2014.
The Olympic champion had won his three other indoor competitions this winter, but he was put under pressure in Rouen. After opening with 5.67m, he passed 5.75m as compatriot Kevin Menaldo, Britain's Luke Cutts and 2011 world champion Pawel Wojciechowski all went clear.
With the bar at 5.83m, Cutts cleared it on his first try to break the British record and take the lead as Lavillenie needed two tries while Menaldo and Wojciechowski exited the competition.
Cutts then set the bar at 5.88m while Lavillenie passed. The Briton failed three times, but Lavillenie still needed to clear a higher height to take victory.
He did much more than that, though.
He nailed 5.93m on his first try to equal his own world-leading mark. He then upped the bar to 6.04m and once again went clear at the first time of asking to break his own French record.
Lavillenie ended his series with three attempts at a would-be world record of 6.16m. His first and third attempts were closest, but he was still some way off the height required.
Regardless, it was a superb performance for this stage of the season. Only world record-holder Sergey Bubka and 2008 Olympic champion Steve Hooker have ever vaulted higher indoors. It was also the fifth time Lavillenie has cleared six metres.
Rupp breaks US indoor 2 mile record, Cain threatens world junior indoor mile record
One week after Galen Rupp set a US indoor 5000m record and Mary Cain broke the world junior indoor 1000m record, the training partners returned to Boston for more record attempts at the BU Terrier Invitational on Friday and Saturday (24-25).
First up was Cain, whose goal was to break Kalkidan Gezahegne’s world junior indoor mile record of 4:24.10, set in 2010, just two weeks before the Ethiopian won the world indoor 1500m title.
After consistent laps between 32 and 33 seconds, it was a nail-biting last circuit for Cain as it became clear that the world junior indoor record was a possibility. She went through 1500m in 4:06.63 but crossed the finish line with the clock at 4:24.11, an agonising one hundredth of a second away from her target.
Nevertheless, it is an outright world age-17 best and the fastest achieved by a US woman since 2000. It puts Cain at equal 12th on the world indoor all-time list and third on the US indoor all-time list.
Needless to say, her 1500m split, as well as her actual finishing time, are US junior indoor records and world-leading marks.
Cain finished more than four second ahead of Abbey D’Agostino, the NCAA indoor 3000m and 5000m champion, who clocked a PB of 4:28.31.
Just 24 hours later it was Rupp's turn in the 2 miles. His main target was to break Bernard Lagat's US indoor record of 8:09.49, but Kenenisa Bekele's world indoor record of 8:04.35 was never out of the question.
Rupp went out hard and churned out 30-second laps to reach the half-way mark in 4:01.6, well inside world record pace. But over the final few laps of the race he began to pay for his exuberant early pace.
The clock ticked through 7:35 at the bell, meaning the Olympic silver medallist would need to cover the final circuit quicker than 30 seconds to have any chance of breaking the world indoor record.
Ultimately Rupp's legs couldn't quite carry him around fast enough to break Bekele's mark, but he achieved his primary goal of the US record, stopping the clock at 8:07.41. His 3000m split of 7:34.68 was also a world-leading mark.
The performance takes him to sixth on the world indoor all-time list for the event, ranking him behind Bekele, Haile Gebrselassie, Paul Kipsiele Koech, Hicham El Guerrouj and Eliud Kipchoge.
Claye and Barshim open indoor campaigns
World indoor champion Will Claye, contesting his first triple jump competition of the year, produced a world-leading 17.04m at the New Balance Games in New York.
In a quality competition, the top three athletes all surpassed the previous world-leading mark as Troy Doris leapt 16.81m in second and Chris Benard jumped 16.76m for third, both of them setting personal bests.
World-leading marks were also set in the men's mile, won by Lee Emanuel in 3:54.30, and in both 300m finals which were won by Manteo Mitchell and Shaunae Miller in 32.71 and 36.40 respectively.
Olympic 800m finalist Duane Solomon won the 600m in 1:16.67, while US Olympian Kim Conley dominated the women's mile in 4:24.54.
Over in Sweden, Olympic bronze medallist Mutaz Essa Barshim got his season underway with a convincing 2.35m win in Malmo. He cleared 2.26m and 2.31m on his second attempts, but then got over 2.35m on his first jump. He ended his series with three failures at 2.38m, the second one being the closest.
National records for Williams and Santos
Another US indoor junior record tumbled at the New Mexico Cherry and Silver Invitational in Albuquerque as 2011 world youth bronze medallist Kendell Williams smashed the mark she set last year by more than 200 points.
After coming close to her PBs in the first two events with 8.40 in the 60m hurdles and 1.81m in the high jump, Williams set lifetime bests in the final three events with 11.21m in the shot, 6.25m in the long jump and 2:26.64 in the 800m.
It gave her a score of 4302, obliterating the 4068 US junior record she set in 2013.
At the same meeting, Jermaine Brown equalled the world-leading mark in the 200m, winning in a PB of 20.68. Other top marks included Nick Ross’s high jump win with 2.31m and DeeDeeTrotter’s sprint double, winning the 200m in 23.38 and the 400m in 51.82.
At the McGill Invitational in Montreal, Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos set a national indoor 300m record of 33.27.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF