Of course, I must start with a story. My French is, well, crap. In an earlier era, after a few glasses of cheap Burgundy, and perhaps a pastis (look it up), I had convinced myself that my French might be tolerable. I was incorrect. Again, this was a few years ago.
Go back to the European Indoor Championships, in 2011. It was held in Bercy, just outside of Paris. I wanted to interview Renaud Lavillenie, so I tried to ask him three questions in French. It did not go well. But, Renaud did his best to answer me. I had been told that Renaud did not speak English at the time. Renaud had this curious look on his face. I am not sure if he thought I was setting him up and some of the managers were screwing with him. He kept a smile on his face all through my painful questions. I am not sure if I actually asked for a pizza or queried him about his vaulting tactics, but, it was a fun interview.
Renaud Lavillenie has had a circuitous journey in our sport. He is the world record holder in the pole vault. After that jump he made another venture into the stratosphere and tore up his foot, requiring several stitches. Renaud recovered, and vaulted again and won another title.
In 2018, Renaud Lavillenie has had a fine start to the season. He has leaped 5.95 meters, won the World Indoors and his first Diamond League of 2018.
Now, Renaud is in Eugene, the spiritual home of his sponsor, Nike. Lavillenie has jumped well at Hayward Field, and he has a truly global field with him: Sam Kendricks, Mondo Duplantis, Piotr Lisek, Pawel Wojiechowski, Raphael Holzdeppe, and Shawn Barber and Thiago Braz da Silva. In that group are World Champions in 2013, 15, 17, plus Olympic champs 2012, 2016.
Here’s our favorite Frenchman, well, next to Monsieur Napoleon and Monsieur Toulouse-Lautrec, Renaud Lavillenie aka @airlavillenie, on a training day around Shanghai DL.