Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Lavillenie Looking to Maintain Momentum


World pole vault record holder, Renaud Lavillenie joined Raphael Holzdeppe, the world champion at the annual traditional curtain-raiser to the Bislett Games and IAAF Oslo Diamond League at the famous strawberry party at Oslo’s City Hall this evening.

Staged in the same venue which holds the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize ceremony each December, the Norwegian capital welcomed the pole vaulting duo in front of the assembled world’s media and the pair spoke positively ahead of tomorrow night’s event.

Lavillenie - the Olympic and world indoor champion – has successfully returned from the foot injury he sustained whilst setting his remarkable 6.16m world indoor record-breaking mark in February, and he arrives in Oslo following recent wins in Shanghai, Eugene and Hengelo.

The 27-year-old Frenchman revealed his plan for tomorrow:

“I’ve tried to break the meeting record (of 6.00m held by Tim Lobinger from the 1999 event) before but it’s always been windy so I hope to get a chance tomorrow.

“Hopefully I can jump 5.90m/6.00m and it will be a good performance. If there’s no wind, we’re up for it.”

With an outdoor best of 6.02m from last summer, the world silver medallist leads Holzdeppe 27-7 in career head-to-heads and Lavillenie is confident of maintaining his fine form:

“I’ve been first place for me every time (this season) so it’s good going and I’ve had a couple of good jumps so it’s a good opening season,” he explained.

The two-time European outdoor and three-time European indoor champion is keen to add another continental gold medal to his collection in Zurich in August:

“My focus is on the gold medal at the European Championships so I need to be as consistent as possible around the 5.80m-6m marks,” he said.

“It’s still early in the season and I’m pretty sure all of the best pole vaulters will be close to 5.80m soon. I just focus on myself and do my stuff.”

When asked about the possibility of extending his world mark even higher back in the winter, Lavillenie continued:

“When I jumped 6.16m, everything was perfect and I used the biggest pole which pushed me further.

“You can’t compare what I’m doing now to what Sergey Bubka did all those years ago – he went up one centimetre at a time but I thought I’d lose time as it’s not easy to find the right conditions for it and so I’d found the best opportunity of my life to do it so I had to try my very best.”

Holzdeppe meanwhile, is determined to get his season going at an improved level following a lacklustre start to his 2014 campaign.

The 24-year-old German – who beat his fierce rival to the world crown in the Russian capital last summer – missed the indoor season through injury but is hopeful for a promising return to form:

“It’s been difficult for me as I missed the indoor season and thought I could come straight back to the big heights so it’s been a really bad time for me,” he revealed.

“I think I found my rhythm in Eugene (where he placed fourth with 5.53m at the end of May) finally so I hope to jump well tomorrow.

“The win in Moscow was a good day for me but I was pushed back a bit, but now I’m in really good shape.”

The Olympic bronze medallist and 2008 world junior champion has a best of 5.91m from the 2012 season and is also targeting the European Championships – in addition to the European Team Championships in Braunschweig next weekend:

“We have two Germans already qualified for the European’s (with the 5.70m mark) but I feel really confident of qualifying,” Holzdeppe explained.

“If I jump 5.70m, I will compete in the European Team Championships – my goal is 5.75m tomorrow then I hope to be competing on home turf.”

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