Lavillenie the Daredevil Vaults 5.92m in 2011 Indoor Season Opener

Among all track & field athletes, I admire pole vaulters the most, in light of the stringent demands of their event. Pole vault requires speed, flexibility and a certain level of technical prowess to propel oneself over the crossbar. Furthermore, the event requires a tad bit of craziness, more akin to practitioners of extreme sports than to domesticated track athletes!

France’s Renaud Lavillenie exemplifies this free-wheeling spirit. In his first competition of the indoor season, the 24-year old Frenchman cleared 5.92m in Aubiere. He then asked the bar to be set at 6.02m – a new French indoor record should he make a successful clearance. The newly-minted European Champion, however, broke his pole in three places. What’s even more remarkable was the nonchalance he exuded as he walked from the shattered fiber glass poles.

Watch a longer version of Lavillenie’s jump here

In a European Athletics Association article, Lavillenie remarked that “under the circumstances, with the pole breaking when it did and it being my first competition of the season, I’ve got to be very satisfied.”

Indeed, when you clear 6 meter high barriers for a living (and vault over rugby crossbars for fun) breaking a pole is part of the job description, albeit an unexpected one.

I’m absolutely ecstatic at the resumption of the track season. I must admit that in the past weeks, I’ve had a hard time trying to jump-start my nascent second season. The exploits of elite athletes like Lavillenie infuse much-needed enthusiasm into an otherwise bland time.

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