BEIJING (Reuters) - Canada’s Shawn Barber nailed his first four jumps to win pole vault gold at the world championships on Monday, leaping 5.90 meters to win his first major global title.
Barber and Raphael Holzdeppe failed with three attempts at six meters but the German defending champion had cleared 5.90 on his third jump while the Canadian went over on his first attempt and thus claimed the title.
France’s Olympic champion and world record holder Renaud Lavillenie had to settle for a fourth bronze medal in four world championships after failing in all three of his jumps at 5.90.
He shared third place with Poles Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski.
With a bumper field of 16 jumpers in the final, Lavillenie waited until the bar was set at 5.80m, clearing it at the first attempt.
Only six jumpers moved on to take on 5.90m and Barber was the first to clear it, pumping his fist as he crashed onto the mat to secure a perfect record of four jumps out of four.
“I think I’ve been able to carry a lot of momentum from the big meets throughout the year and I’ve been fortunate enough to jump very well at those meets,” said Barber, who had won U.S. collegiate indoor and outdoor titles as well as the Canadian and Pan American Games championships.
“I still feel very calm and I don’t think it has quite hit me yet, but I‘m sure that will come tonight when we start celebrating.”
A student at Akron University in Ohio, Barber noted that his father had been a pole vaulter in Canada 25 years ago.
“Luckily I was able to follow in his footsteps a little bit,” he said.
Lavillenie, the 2012 Olympic and world indoor champion, had been trying to win his first world title to complete his set of global golds.
“I was in good shape and I don’t really know what went wrong,” he said. “5.90 meters usually is not difficult for me. But it happens to everyone... Pole vault is like this. You never know.”
Holzdeppe was not too disappointed at having failed to successfully defend his title. ”...after the terrible year like 2014 I am happy with this outcome.
“I put everything on the table I had today,” he said, noting he was only four centimeters below his personal best.
“The conditions here were perfect for me, for all pole vaulters.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney/Gene Cherry, editing by Ken Ferris