Renaud Lavillenie clearing a world record of 6.16m at the 2014 Pole Vault Stars meeting in Donetsk (© Valeriy Bilokryl / Jean-Pierre Durand)
French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie set a world record* of 6.16m at the Pole Vault Stars meeting in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Saturday (15).
The reigning Olympic and European champion cleared the height comfortably on his first attempt before going on to have one try at 6.21m.
He entered the competition at 5.76m and cleared that height as well as 5.91m on his first attempt before getting over 6.01m with his third effort.
The previous outdoor world record was 6.14m, set by Sergey Bubka in Sestriere, Italy, in 1994, while the indoor world record was also held by the legendary Ukrainian vaulter with 6.15m in Donetsk, which he cleared just a week shy of 20 years ago on 21 February 1993.
Lavillenie was congratulated by Bubka, a native of Donetsk, who had been watching from the stands and who stood to applaud the man who succeeded him in the record books.
"I think it's going to take me some time to come back to earth because it's incredible," said Lavillenie, who won at the meeting for the fourth consecutive year. "This is a world record that is so mythical, and to clear it on the first jump, without touching (the bar); there's nothing to say. It's just a moment to savour."
Bubka, the 1988 Olympic champion and now an IAAF Vice President, was quick to praise his successor.
"I think this is a great day, a fantastic performance, I am very happy that Renaud did this record in my home city where I did 6.15," commented Bubka.
"I'm very happy and proud for him, because he's a great athlete and a fantastic role model.
"I'm not disappointed because I thought this already before, even yesterday when we had a discussion about the record with Renaud," he added. "I felt it would be great if this guy could continue and receive the baton from me and bring glory to athletics."
"It's normal (that I am happy), I only do things to help athletes. It's my duty, it's my job, to provide full support to make history for them and they make history for us. For all people who love sport and love athletics. I'm a happy man."
Lavillenie had given notice that he was ready to have a serious attempt on the world record when he went over 6.08m at his last meeting, in the Polish city of Bydgoszcz, just over two weeks ago.
Behind Lavillenie, Great Britain’s Luke Cutts continued his good run of form with 5.81m for second place.
Cutts cleared a national record of 5.83m last month and on Saturday had one failure at 5.91m and two tries at 5.96m.
Brazil’s Thiago Braz da Silva cleared a South American indoor record of 5.76m on his third attempt to take third place.
However, there was success for Braz da Silva’s compatriot and training partner Fabiana Murer in the women’s contest, which the 2011 world champion won with 4.62m.
She got over that height on her second attempt while Poland’s Anna Rogowska and Germany’s Silke Spiegleburg made the same height but on their third attempts and so finished equal second after all three women failed three times at 4.72m.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF
*Subject to the usual ratification procedures.