French stars on top of the world

French stars on top of the world
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Renaud Lavillenie cleared a world-leading pole vault height of 6.02m at home in Clermont-Ferrand.

Between them, Frenchmen Renaud Lavillenie and Christophe Lemaitre have won seven gold medals at the European Athletics Championships and in a year where they will be looking to add to that, they have now moved to the top of the world rankings on the indoor scene.

Both had superb days on Sunday in different parts of France to show their fine winter form.

Lavillenie, a triple European pole vault champion outdoors (along with his four European golds indoors), cleared 6.02m in Clermont-Ferrand at the All Star Perche, a meeting organised with his guidance.

His only failure was in attempting to break his own world record of 6.16m when he missed out at 6.17m but he went over first time at 5.70m, 5.84m, 5.91m and the 6.02m.

He beat Canada’s world champion Shawn Barber (5.91m) and Konstadinos Filippidis who achieved a Greek record (5.84m) in a share of third place.

It was a weekend to remember for Greek pole vaulters because at the Millrose Games in New York, Ekaterini Stefanidi set a national record of her own as she won on countback (4.90m) from American Demi Payne.

Across France at the international indoor meeting in Metz, Lemaitre was flying in the 200m as he moved to the top of the world lists with an indoor personal best time of 20.44 to beat fellow Frenchman Jeffrey John (20.79), while there was a superb run by Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, the European indoor champion, as he won the 60m hurdles in 7.49, the third best of his career in his opening race of the season.

Indeed, it was a fine weekend of sprinting for Europe’s men because in Chemnitz on Saturday, Germany’s Julian Reus once more equalled the national indoor record (6.53) ahead of teammate Christian Blum (6.62).

With the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland next month, selection was on the minds of many at the series of national championships.

In Mogilev, Belarusian Alina Talay, the European 60m hurdles champion, tested her flat speed as she won the 60m (7.42) and in Kaunas, Lithuania's Airine Palsyte, who leads the world high jump rankings with 1.97m, won with 1.94m.

On the second day of the Hungarian championships in Budapest on Sunday, Balazs Baji broke the national record with 7.55 in the heats of the 60m hurdles before winning the final (7.62) and in Reykjavik, Anita Hinriksdottir achieved the best result at the Icelandic championships with 54.84 in the 400m and 2:03.56 in the 800m.

It was a great weekend, too, for Yasemin Can at the Turkish championships as she won the 5000m on Saturday in a European lead, and personal best, of 15:08.46 before taking the 1500m 24 hours later (4:16.42). 

Mo Farah justified his star billing at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix as he won the 3000m (7:39.55) at a meeting where Poland’s Adam Kszczot (1:46.23) made it five 800m wins in a row as Dafne Schippers took the 60m (7.10) from Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson (7.14) and Polish teenage sensation Ewa Swoboda (7.15).

Schippers’ Dutch teammate Sifan Hassan won the 1500m (4:01.40) in her first race of the season, the second best time in the world this year, and confirmed she will be going to Portland.

There are 80 meetings across Europe this week, including a European Athletics Indoor Permit Meeting in Madrid on Friday. All the information is at http://www.european-athletics.org/calendar/