Lavillenie is affable, speaks clear English and French, and seems to enjoy himself. In the interviews here, at the AREVA Paris meeting, Renaud was quite comfortable with the press and answered the following questions for me:
I was able to ask Renaud three questions in English, to which he graciously tolerated my prying. First of all, What did he remember from his 6.01m vault in Bercy, at the European Indoors?
Renaud replied, " My training had been very good. I felt, on the first several steps of the run, that I was going to clear 6.01m. The rest of the jump was excellent. "
When asked if he preferred a great height to a win, there was no hesitation, "A win!" Renaud smiled. Then he noted that as he was leading the Samsung DL in the pole vault, he wanted to win AREVA to keep the streak and his potential win going!
When I asked him, what height he dreamed of in the perfect jump, he laughed and answered it this way. " I dream of 6.03m, perhaps 6.05m or 6.07meters, but most of all, I want to win. "
The French media were all over Lavillenie about what they saw as the inconsistencies of his jumping, with his 6.01m in March, and his leading the world with jumps outdoors of 5.80m.
Here is what Renaud said to the media crowd:
"My season has been different than last year. I have been less consistent. But, I am not worried about that, because my preparation has also been different. I jumped in May and June with no specific training. I have not used my strongest pole. But, anyway, I am the only one so far who has cleared 5.80m or higher more than once. I am surprised by that. About Friday night, I guess I could jump 5.90m, because I was close to clearing 5.88m, in Lausanne. It will depend on conditions. Wind is often complicated for us in this stadium. But, more than jumping high, I want to win, as I did in 2009 and 2010. And I want to keep the lead in the Diamond League race."
My take on Lavillenie? He has the strength and style of the great French vaulters, of which, he may be the best. He also speaks English, which gives him much more commercial opportunities.
Lavillenie and Hooker will battle it out in Daegu. Lavillenie has had more luck with his health. And if someone is ever on at this time, Renaud Lavillenie is on. He has confidence in his training, his coaching and his jumping.
And, most of all, he wants to win....