'Air Lavillenie' set to take flight into Bird's Nest

Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:29am EDT
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By Julien Pretot

PARIS (Reuters) - Renaud Lavillenie appears to have overcome a mid-season wobble and is hitting the heights just in time for his bid to complete a collection of major pole vault titles at the world championships in Beijing.

The high-flying Frenchman holds the world record after clearing 6.16 meters last year and victory in China would add to his Olympic and world indoor titles as well as the European indoor and outdoor crowns he also owns.

However, The 28-year-old suffered a recent blip in his buildup to Beijing, falling to rare back-to-back defeats in Paris and Lausanne last month as he looked vulnerable for the first time since his failure at the 2013 world championships.

Despite the setbacks, the dominant force in the discipline since soaring to the Olympic title in London three years ago was not unduly concerned.

"Let's not forget it is pole vaulting and it is not out of the ordinary to fail in a competition," he said.

"Last season, I was able to win the Paris meeting with 5.70m. This year, I'm fifth with the same performance."

While his Paris (5.76m) mark was seriously below par, Lavillenie blamed his poor result in Lausanne (5.71m) on a late gust of wind and promised to show what he was capable of in the ensuing French championships, which he won comfortably.

It was against improved competition that 'Air Lavillenie' really hit his mark, however, clearing the bar at 6.03m at the London Diamond League meeting last month.   Continued...

Renaud Lavillenie of France competes in the men's pole vault qualifying round during the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, in this August 10, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files