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French pole vaulter breaks 21-year old world record

Renaud Lavillénie celebrates breaking the world record for pole vault, which had stood for 21 years.
Renaud Lavillénie celebrates breaking the world record for pole vault, which had stood for 21 years. Reuters/Valeriy Bilokryl

Frenchman Renaud Lavillénie has broken the world record for pole vault, setting a new height of 6.16 metres and breaking one of the longest-standing records in athletics.


The 27-year old reigning Olympic and European champion reacted in delight after clearing the height at his first attempt at an indoor competition in Donetsk, Ukraine on Saturday.

The previous world indoor record of 6.15 metres was set at the same venue just under 21 years ago by Ukranian Sergey Bubka, the sport’s undisputed legend and a Donetsk local who watched Lavillenie break his world mark from the grandstand.

An ecstatic Lavillénie, or 'Airvallenie' as his fans nickname him, put his head in his hands and ran round the auditorium celebrating.

"It was totally crazy. I wanted to do my best. It was incredible," said Laveillénie, who also sent out a jubilant tweet that he was "still in the air" over his victory.

Lavillénie’s new mark also surpasses Bubka’s outdoor world record of 6.14 metres set in 1994. Marks set either indoors or outdoors are accepted as world records.

"A new era has arrived in this sport... We expected this and we are delighted that it took place exactly here, in Donetsk," Bubka said.

"I am very fond of this boy. I am sure this is not the last summit he will reach and that other brilliant successes await him."

Lavillenie then tried to clear 6.21 metres but failed, injuring his left foot in the process.
It’s believed he may miss the world indoor championships next month in Poland, where he is the defending champion.

Lavillénie’s father, also a pole vaulter, also reacted in delight.

"One can't say I have always believed it, but for at least two years I believed he could really break this world record," Gilles Lavillénie said.

"I still haven't come down, but I don't think he has come down either.”

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