Renaud Lavillenie: Still Shooting for the Stars, by Larry Eder

The press conference today was held in the Shereton Brussels floor one. The small, intimate space was good for the media interested in Renaud Lavillenie, arguably the best vaulter of his generation. 

Renaud Lavillenie will be jumping at the Belgacom Van Damme Memorial meeting tomorrow evening, September 6. In front of a sold out crowd of 47,000 fans, will Renaud reach the heights he has thought he would this season? 

Renaud Lavillenie, " Moscow was disappointing", 
photo by 
Pole vaulters are a friendly lot. Whether you meet one of the Germans, French, Russians, or Americans, the risk takers of the sport of athletics are pretty affable folks.

Take Renaud Lavillenie, the best vaulter in the world today. 

Still, 2013 has been a frustrating year for him. 

Yes, Lavillenie was beaten in Moscow, by Raphael Holzdeppe, of Germany, the young German who finished third to Renaud Lavilenie in London, Holzdeppe had less attempts that Lavillenie in Moscow, who struggled with his steps ( "others take 18 steps, I take 20 steps, which meant I was starting in lane three"). 

Moscow was, Renaud Lavillenie noted, not up to other World Championship events. " I would have expected a bit more at a World Championships". Lavillenie could not mark out his steps, as IAAF rules prohibit marking the actual track. 

The runway was shorter than in other stadiums. This proved to be Lavillenie's undoing. His missed attempts cost his the gold medal. 

Renaud Lavillenie winning in European Indoors, March 2013, 
photo by

Then, there was that earlier jump in March 2013. 

I was sitting in the stands in the Goteborg stadium as Renaud Lavillenie, already the victor in the European indoors, went for 6.07 meters! As he cleared the bar, the bar jumped, but landed back on the standard, but, not exactly in the correct position. Still, it was standing! 

Renaud Lavillenie exited the pit and was jubilant! Then, he was crushed, as, due to a change in the rules, supported by one Sergei Bubka, a vault that would have been fair two years ago, is not a fair clearance in 2013.

Lavillenie was crushed and layed on the ground an estimated fifteen to twenty minutes.

Those two events have tempered Renaud Lavillenie.

So, the best vaulter in the world has something still to prove in 2013, will he do it in Brussels?

That would be the story book ending to a year that has both challenged and frustrated Renaud Lavillenie. 

As Renaud Lavillenie knows all too well, there are good days and bad days in the pole vault. There are days of agony and days of ecstacy. Lavillenie has seen them both. 

It seems to me that Renaud Lavillenie understands his mission. His journey is about seeing how high he can go now. Can he challenge the vaulting of Sergey Bubka, the best male vaulter ever, a man who amassed 35 world pole vault records, indoor and out, in his career? 

Renaud Lavillenie knows that there are higher vaults in him. Where and when, that is a mystery. 

And part of the fun....

Renaud talks to the pole vault bar, Reno, Vault Summit 2013, 
photo by

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