Since Turin in 2009, French superstar Renaud Lavillenie has dominated the pole vault at the European Athletics Indoor Championships, winning gold on every occasion.
But now, just 36 days away from Belgrade, Poland’s Piotr Lisek has stamped his authority all over the event.
In Cottbus on Wednesday night, Lisek, 24, who won bronze behind Lavillenie in Prague two years ago, climbed high and then higher still to win with a brilliant clearance of 5.92m as he beat three world champions in the process.
Along with being the best pole vault in the world this year, the mark was the best ever by a Polish athlete – indoor or out.
His performance in front of more than 2000 fans in Germany saw him improve his own national indoor record of 5.90m from 2015, while the outdoor best is Pawel Wojciechowski’s 5.91m from August 16 2011 – which ironically is Lisek’s birthday.
But the real celebrations for Lisek could come in Prague where he will put down a serious challenge to stop Lavillenie making it five European indoor titles in a row.
The Frenchman ended last winter on top of the world, with the three best efforts – 6.03m and 6.02m twice.
The second of those 6.02m vaults came when he took gold at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland in March where Lisek won bronze with 5.75m, while the previous summer in Beijing, Lisek, Lavillenie and Wojciechowski all shared the same podium step in Beijing after finishing equal-third at the outdoor world championships with 5.80m.
But every athlete has a seminal moment in their career and this display in Cottbus could be the one Lisek looks back on in years to come as his groundbreaking night of vaulting.
By the time he had cleared 5.78m – which had equalled the world lead held by Greece’s Kostadinos Filippidis – it was enough for victory before Lisek went over first time at 5.83m and then reached 5.92m on his second attempt.
He tried for six metres and though he failed to land that mark, he produced three good efforts, proving that golden height might not be far away. on a night.
But it was the class of athlete behind him that showed how good Lisek was.
Germany’s Raphael Holzdeppe, the 2013 world champion, was second (5.73m), Filippidis (5.68m), the 2014 world indoor champion, was third and Canada’s 2015 outdoor world champion Shawn Barber (5.60m) was fourth.
But the night belonged to one man.