The Moment of Larry, named in honor of me, is my zen moment for each day of a championship. I consider, in those few quiet moments I find while covering a global event, a recurring moment, or sound, or smell from a championships.
My first Moment of Larry for the IAAF World Championships is from the pole vault competitions.
Both compeititons were superb. The women’s competition continues to show the growth, on the global level of the sport of athletics, but more importantly, the insane high quality of athletes who are coming into our sport. Women pole vaulters are, well, studs. They can run, jump, throw and they are soaring over heights no one considered ten years ago.
On the men’s side, Renaud Lavillenie, a combination of Napoleon and a rock star, leads the pole vault. But with enough challengers, such as Shawn Barber, Sam Kendricks and Piotr Lisek, Renaud stays inspired.
When Renaud Lavillenie broke Sergey Bubka’s WR in the Pole Vault in Donetsk, Ukraine on 14 February 2014, he cleared 6.16 meters. He then tried 6.21m, where he fell down, split open his foot and required nearly a dozen stitches.
At the 2016 World Indoors, Renaud Lavillenie came into Portland having cleared 6.03 meters, where he tried 6.10 meters, but did not succeed.
At the World Indoors, Renaud cleared 6.02 meters, and had the meet won. Sam Kendricks was out, as was everyone else.
So, Renaud Lavillenie attempted 6.17 meters. His first attempt was not even close.
His second attempt was my MOMENT OF LARRY.
While charging up the runway, Renaud Lavillenie planted the pole and got airborne, but started to fall back into the pit. With a hug exhale of the crowd, full of much worry, Renaud fell into the pit, rather clumsily, but safely. Nothing broken, nothing torn.
There is a picture of Renaud Lavillenie smiling, knowing he had dodged an injury once again. Not really shaken, Renaud did take the moment and told the IAAF: “I was a bit afraid, but I was able to manage it and fall safely.” Then, Lavillenie added the following: ‘Pole Vault is sometimes very dangerousn and intense, but that is why we love it.”
Renaud Lavillenie is a daredevil as well as one hell of an athlete. His joie de vivre is part of why Renaud is so damn successful, as well as being an absolute risk taker.
For Lavillenie, and his level of fitness and mental preparation, his risk is all part of his regular day, much like breathing.
For us, his moments of grandeur are breath taking and envelope us in a feeling that we, collectively, are experiencing something unique in the world. And, we are.
In the last 48 hours, a plane crashed in Russia, several suicide bombers plied their senseless trade and refugees from Syria were wondering where they can find their next hygenic place to sleep.
In Portland, Oregon, 143 countries are competing in running, jumping and throwing, without a senseless act of violence or insulting another culture or set of beliefs. To me, that is magical.
Renaud Lavillenie, in attempting to touch the sky, or the roof in the OCC for that matter, gave us a MOMENT OF LARRY for Day One.
And, I , for one, am happy.