Lavillenie to start his quest for Helsinki success in Ostrava
|French pole vault star Renaud Lavillenie will start his
summer campaign at the Golden Spike meeting in
Ostrava, Czech Republic, on 25 May.
Lavillenie will be hoping to defend his continental title at the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki before bidding to add become the third Frenchman to win an Olympic pole vault title.
The pole vault returns to the Ostrava programme – an IAAF World Challenge meeting - for the first time since 2008 and the local organisers are hoping he can improve on the meeting record of 5.77m, which was set that year by Russia's Yevgeniy Lukyanenko.
"I heard about the Ostrava meeting from my colleagues and I'm glad the meet will have after some years men's pole vault," said Lavillenie.
"My plans are clear for the summer with Helsinki and London; and Ostrava will be the starting point. The first meet is always very important and I want to give the crowd a good show. In the situation that all is well with my shape and condition, I think I would be able to attack the meet record of 5.77m," he added.
Also confirmed to compete in Ostrava is Germany's 2011 World Championships shot put gold medallist David Storl.
Ostrava has many happy memories for Storl, who was also voted the 2011 European Athletics Rising Star of the Year, as he won in the city at the 2007 World Youth Championships and also at the European Athletics U23 Championships last year.
"I m happy to be back again in Ostrava, where I won my European (U23) title. I consider this competition as an important preparation for Helsinki and London," said Storl, echoing Lavillenie's sentiments.
The women's hammer throw in Ostrava, traditionally held the day before the main meeting, will also see Europe's best throwers in action.
Germany's 2010 European Athletics Championships gold medallist and current world record holder Betty Heidler will face Poland's 2009 world champion the women she deposed as the world record holder Anita Wlodarczyk.
The pair are very familiar with the throwing circle in the Czech city after having won twice each in the last five years.
Heidler, whose world record is 79.42m, is the meeting record holder with the 77.22m she threw last year and also won in Ostrava in 2007, the year she also won the world title while Wlodarczyk took back-to-back victories in 2009 and 2010.
The women's hammer throwers contest the Kamila Skolimowska Trophy, which commemorates Poland's 2000 Olympic Games champion who died unexpectedly in February 2009 at the tragically young age of 26.