© Copyright

Event Preview Men Pole Vault

Reigning world champion Dmitri MARKOV (AUS) has been raising his level throughout the season. Markov’s problem has been inconsistency, he has not cleared his opening height in six competitions during 2003.

He won the recent Berlin GP with a season’s best of 5.86m, but then he was only fourth in Zürich, jumping 5.70m. Many other vaulters have been having the same kind of problems. Romain MESNIL (FRA), who is the world leader with his 5.95m in Castres in August, could not clear his opening height of 5.80m at Zürich, his last meeting before Paris.

With no real favourite, the event is wide open for almost any of the competitors to win. The 2002 European champion, Alex AVERBUKH (ISR), broke his national record in Madrid in July with 5.93m, but was only equal seventh in Zürich with 5.60m. The 2003 world indoor champion Tim LOBINGER (GER) cleared a season’s best of 5.86m in the middle of June, but has not been able to jump over 5.80m since. Lobinger has been competing regularly and cannot be far from his best as he already has 12 competitions at 5.70m or higher during the outdoor season.

Oscar JANSON (SWE) was an early world leader with his 5.87m national record which he jumped in Somero, Finland, in June. However, this is the only competition in which the 28 year-old Swede cleared and he will be struggling to get among the medals. Giuseppe GIBILISCO (ITA) broke the Italian record in Rome (5.82m) before his home crowd, but has not been able to duplicate that performance since.

Although Okkert BRITS (RSA) cleared the magic 6-metre mark in 1995 and 1996, the South African is still looking for his first medal at a major championships. Brits has won the Commonwealth (2002) and All African Games (1999) titles, but at a worldwide competition his best achievement is seventh place in the Olympic final in Sydney 2000. In the start of the season Brits won many lower key international meetings on the European circuit and has recently shown good form. In Zürich, Brits won with 5.80m, and the competition featured most of the vaulters looking for medals here.

Markov was not a real favourite before the 2001 Championships and he’s not a clear pick to win here either, but he has excelled in big meets earlier. The same can be said for the European champion Averbukh. He is not always consistent, but seems to find his form at the right time. Tim Lobinger was a little out of his best shape just before the championships and Okkert Brits has not won a medal in major championships before, but you just can’t forget about these two 30 year-olds, who are the most experienced of the top names here.