Renaud Lavillenie competing in Salzburg (© Salzburg Cityjump / Michael Rauschendorfer)
Pole vault world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie made the Silberpfeil Cityjump in the Austrian city of Salzburg a truly special occasion on Friday evening (4).
The Olympic champion cleared 5.93m to win the street event, which was held in support of the charity that has been set up for Kira Grunberg, the Austrian pole vaulter who was left quadriplegic after a training accident five weeks ago.
Competing in his first competition since finishing third at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, Lavillenie needed two jumps to get over his opening height of 5.40m. But as the competition went on, he found his rhythm and sailed over 5.60m and 5.70m.
He cleared 5.80m on his third attempt, and then chose to raise the bar to 5.93m, one centimetre above the Austrian all-comers’ record set by Hungary’s Istvan Bagyula in 1991. Lavillenie cleared it on his first attempt, much to the delight of the 5000 spectators at the ‘Kapitelplatz’ in Salzburg city centre.
He ended his series with three unsuccessful tries at 6.00m, but he was more than happy with his winning mark.
“It was a complicated competition because I was feeling tired and I decided to jump on 16 steps rather than on 20 steps as normally,” he said. “But jump after jump, I managed to improve myself and the final was excellent. The atmosphere was incredible.”
Germans Michel Frauen and Oleg Zernikel were second and third, jumping 5.50m and 5.30m respectively. Rasmus Jorgensen of Denmark, winner of the event in 2013, came forth with 5.20m.
“There are more important things than this competition, though,” added Lavillenie, referring to the fate of Grunberg, who has lost the use of her feet and arms. “I am very proud to have dedicated this competition to Kira,” said Lavillenie. “I hope this will give her strength to fight and continue to grow as she does.”
When Lavillenie heard about her condition, he and other athletes offered their support and agreed to participate at the event without any fees. Organisers were able to contribute €18,000 Grunberg and her family, coming from the athletes’ budget and donations by the visitors.
“It is amazing that a world-class athlete still gives it their all, even if no money is involved,” said meeting director Karin Walkner. “This shows his great commitment and personality.”
Organisers for the IAAF