European Athlete of the Year Renaud Lavillenie continued his unbeaten indoor season with his eighth win of the winter, going over 5.92m to triumph at the Malmö Games on Wednesday night, the last European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting of 2015.
The French pole vaulter reinforced the impression that he will be one of the most prohibitive favourites for gold at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague next week when he sailed over his winning height on his second attempt before three unsuccessful efforts at what would have been a world-leading 6.03m.
5.92 is OK but I would have liked some more time between the jumps to prepare and perhaps that would have helped me jump higher.
However, as he was the last man in action in the Malmö Arena, with all the other events having come to an end and no one left to challenge him in his specialist event, he had no opportunity to take a breather.
Poland’s Piotr Lisek went close to his recent national record of 5.87m when he cleared 5.85m for second place before having three attempts at 5.92m while Russia’s Ilya Mudrov posted an absolute best of 5.78m for third place.
The other European winner in the Swedish city was Serbia’s 2014 European Championships long jump silver medallist Ivana Spanovic.
The women’s long jump was an experimental event with jumps being measured from the point of take-off, as long as there was not a foul and athletes were on the board.
Although the performances will not appear in any world lists, it’s worth noting that Serbia’s world bronze medallist Ivana Spanovic won with what would have been a national record of 6.99m and had three other jumps better than 6.94m.
By the competitions’ own rules, Canada’s world leader Christabel Nettey was second with 6.84m and France’s world indoor champion Eloyse Lesueur third with 6.83m.
The jumps were also measured according to the conventional rules and Spanovic was still the winner with four jumps ‘legally’ at 6.76m or better, topped by 6.83m.
See Spanovic's full long jump contest:
Like Lavillenie, she will have gold medal aspirations in Prague. However, unlike the Frenchman who has won at the last three editions of the Championships, she did not get on the podium at either of her two previous appearances.
The performance of the night from the innovation seven-event programme came from American hurdler Sharika Nelvis.who flew to a 2015 world-leading 60m hurdles time of 7.83.
By the second hurdle, Nelvis was well clear of her rivals and the only question remaining was how big her margin of victory was going to be.
Alina Talay finished second in 7.93, a time only the Belarus hurdler herself has beaten among the Europeans this winter.
Qatari high jump superstar Mutaz Barshim was victorious again, this time clearing 2.34m.
Another man unbeaten this winter is the evergreen St Kitts sprinter Kim Collins, who won the men’s 60m final in 6.52.