New Straits Times

Lavillenie seals ‘crazy’ treble


BIRMINGHAM: France’s Renaud Lavillenie displayed all his experience to bag a “crazy” third pole vault title at the IAAF –World Indoor Championsh­ips on Sunday as Briton Andrew Pozzi hailed the late Roger Bannister as the inspiratio­n behind his hurdles triumph.

In a bold show of gamesmansh­ip, the Frenchman came into the competitio­n at 5.70 metres — which six of the 15-strong field failed to make — passed at 5.80 and went clear at 5.85 and 5.90 after one failure at the latter.

American Sam Hendricks (5.85) eventually took silver from Poland’s Piotr Lisek on countback as a host of rivals fell by the wayside.

But world record holder Lavillenie was left punching the air in triumph as he cleared 5.90 for a title to add to his previous wins in 2016 and 2012.

“I’m very, very happy. The competitio­n was a real battle,” said the 31-year-old who won Olympic gold in 2012 and silver in 2016.

Fittingly on the day Bannister died aged 88, British team captain Pozzi said his victory in the 60m hurdles had been inspired by the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.

Two defending track champions stepped up to win successive titles, but there was no luck for Brittney Reese, the American bidding for a fourth world indoor long jump title who was pushed into silver by Serbian Ivana Spanovic. Ivana went out to 6.96m on her fourth jump to beat Brittney by 7cm.

In a slow tactical race, Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha produced a devastatin­g last-lap spurt to defend his 3000m title with some ease, the 20-year-old crossing the line in 8:14.41 ahead of teenage teammate Selemon Barega.

There was no holding back in the women’s 800m as Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba also successful­ly defended her title in 1:58.31, the fastest time run over the distance this season.

There was more Ethiopian glory as Samuel Tefera, just 18, hared home to win the men’s 1500m in 3:58.19.

Courtney Okolo won a second gold of the world indoors as she anchored the US women’s team to victory in the 4x400m relay in a new championsh­ip record of 3:23.85 ahead of Poland and Britain.

The men’s relay went the way of Poland, Jakub Krzewina anchoring a team comprising Karol Zalewski, Rafal Omelko and Lukasz Krawczuk to a world indoor record of 3:01.77, smashing the previous best set by the USA in Sopot in 2014.

Krzewina overhauled American Vernon Norwood in the final 15 metres for a memorable victory that shattered the US team’s bid for a seventh successive title, Belgium winning bronze.

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