PRAGUE (Reuters) - Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, the new master of the pole vault, added another title to his burgeoning collection as he retained his European Indoor Championship crown but failed to break his own world record.
The Olympic champion sealed victory with a championship record 6.04 meters vault at the second attempt, after he had quickly wrapped up victory with vaults of 5.75m and 5.90m.
With victory assured, he had the bar raised to 6.17m in a bid to top the record of 6.16m -- the best vault ever recorded, either indoors or out -- that he set in Donetsk a year ago.
Lavillenie did not come close but victory meant the 28-year-old added a fourth straight European Indoor title to the golds he won at the London Olympics and world indoor championships in 2012 and his three European titles outdoors.
“I‘m really happy,” said Lavellenie, who has his sights set on flying even higher in a pole vault career which is beginning to feel as dominant as Sergei Bubka’s once was.
“I was lacking a bit of energy and only 99 percent is not enough for a world record but it was still one of my highest jumps ever. I don’t want to have any limits. Maybe 6.20, maybe more.”
Czech Republic world indoor champion Pavel Maslak successfully defended his 400 meters title, clocking a championship record of 45.33 seconds.
Maslak, darling of the home crowd and wearing his trademark long sleeves in national colors, left all his rivals swiftly trailing after a blistering start.
At the 200m mark after the first lap, the 24-year-old was ahead of the world record schedule set by American Kerron Clement when he set the 10-year-old mark of 44.57 seconds, but he inevitably faded.
“I was over-motivated, I ran the first 200 meters too fast but nevertheless it worked out,” Maslak said.
Ukraine’s Nataliya Pyhyda produced a similarly dominant display to win the women’s 400 in 51.96 seconds.
Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic took gold in the women’s long jump with a national record of 6.98m, while Portugal’s former Olympic champion Nelson Evora won the men’s triple jump with 17.21m.
Following the recent scandals enveloping their athletes, Russia had something to celebrate with golds for Mariya Kuchina in the high jump and Yelena Korobkina in the 3,000m.
Additional reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Ken Ferris