Lavillenie spearheads French team for Lille Metropole

Lavillenie is still the one to beat
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Renaud Lavillenie is looking to claim his sixth victory at the European Team Championships in Lille Metropole

Renaud Lavillenie will be aiming for his sixth victory at the seventh edition of the European Athletics Team Championships Super League in Lille Metropole where the French team will be looking to claim the overall title for the first time in competition history. 

Lavillenie has been an ever-present on the French team for the European Team Championships which took place for the first time in 2009, replacing the European Cup. 

The 30-year-old achieved the first six metre-plus vault of his career at the inaugural edition in Leiria, Portugal eight years ago when he set a championship record of 6.01m before claiming maximum points in 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2015. 

Lavillenie cut short his indoor season due to injury but the Frenchman is returning to form with a season’s best of 5.83m set in the Shanghai Diamond League last month. He is set to go head-to-head with Poland’s Piotr Lisek in Lille Metropole, who succeeded Lavillenie as the European indoor champion in Belgrade in March. 

Joint European 100m record-holder Jimmy Vicaut has already broken the 10-second barrier this season and the Olympic finalist, who leads the European rankings with 9.97, is another pre-competition favourite. He will be looking for a hat-trick of wins after previously triumphing in 2013 and 2014. 

Olympic 200m bronze medallist Christophe Lemaitre is returning to form after a hamstring injury with a season’s best of 20.29 in the Rome Diamond League. Lemaitre is a past winner of the 100m and 200m - and still holds the championship record in both events - but he will only contest the 200m individually.

One athlete who is doubling up is Mahiedine Mekhissi, who will be competing in the 1500m and the 3000m steeplechase. Mekhissi’s specialist event is the steeplechase but he is a former European champion indoors and outdoors over 1500m and his sprint finish will be an asset in a tactical encounter. 

European-leader Mamadou Kasse Hann will be looking for maximum points in the 400m hurdles while Aurel Manga has been given the nod for the 110m hurdles. Other key names in the team include Floria Guei (400m, 4x400m), Jean-Marc Pontvianne (triple jump) and Melina Robert-Michon (discus).

The French team placed third at the last edition of the European Team Championships in Cheboksary, Russia in 2015.