Men's Field Events Preview

Men's Field Preview
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France's Renaud Lavillenie is going for his fourth consecutive European indoor pole vault title in Prague this weekend.

Six years ago in Turin, when Renaud Lavillenie won the pole vault at the European Athletics Indoor Championships with a personal best of 5.81m, it was his first major senior title.

But now, three editions on from that triumph, it is not so much a case of whether he will make it four golds in a row. The talking point at the 02 Arena could be whether or not he will break the world record.

That has been the impact that the Frenchman has had on the event for the second winter running, 13 months on from achieving his brilliant 6.16m to replace Sergey Bubka’s 21-year-old mark of 6.15m.

Lavillenie has been consistency supreme again indoors since the start of 2015, with winning clearances of 6.02m, 6.01m on two occasions, 6.00m and 5.92m twice.

Here's Lavillenie's world leading vault in Berlin on 14 December:

But Poland’s Piotr Lisek offers a very real threat and his national record of 5.90m in Bad Oeynhausen last weekend was demonstration enough that this event may not be a one-man show. Equally, Lisek’s teammate Robert Sobera has gone over at 5.81m this year, the same height as Russia’s Aleksandr Gripich.

Serbia’s Asmir Kolasinac is another defending field event champion from Gothenburg where he took shot put gold by 28 centimetres with 20.62m. But in Germany’s David Storl he faces a double world champion who has never won a major title indoors.

Storl, who has returned from an operation this winter to throw a season’s best of 21.26m against Kolasinac’s national record of 20.91m, was second in Paris in 2011 and has twice won silver at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.

In Zurich last summer, Storl retained his European Athletics crown with a punishing first round effort of 21.41m which no-one troubled. Kolasinac was fifth with 20.55m while Spain’s Borja Vivas was second with 20.86m.

Vivas will look to make a mark as will Ladislav Prasil, who was third in Gothenburg, has a personal best of 21.10m and will carry the hopes of the home nation in an event where qualifying takes place on Thursday evening.

Prior to the shot put, the men’s long jump also has its qualification late on Thursday afternoon and the final itself could be a close event.

France’s Kafetien Gomis leads the European Athletics rankings with 8.18m and while he has jumped 8.21m in the past, it is a field where Sweden’s Michel Torneus, the silver medallist from Gothenburg, has a personal best of 8.29m and Greece’s Louis Tsatoumas has reached 8.23m in the past.

The high jump is wide open.

Marco Fassinotti broke the Italian national record to move to the top of the European Athletics rankings in January and no-one has passed his 2.34m.

Ukraine’s Andril Protsenko came close with 2.33m and Dimitrios Hondrokoukis broke the Cypriot national record with 2.32m.

One athlete stands out from the season so far in European triple jumping and that is Portugal’s Nelson Evora, the 2008 Olympic champion.

He is 31 next month and has never won a major senior European title. He did land gold in both the triple and long jump at the European Athletics Junior Championships in Tampere in 2003 and with a leap of 17.19m this winter, he has shown he is ready to bridge that gap at the top of the European podium.

Eelco Sintnicolaas, of the Netherlands, is back to defend his heptathlon title but he will face tough opposition in the Czech Republic’s Adam Helcelet.

He has scored 6164 points this winter to top the European lists where Sintnicolaas is only 13th so far with 5892. Furthermore, Helcelet will have home advantage, and that extra support could be a big factor if the competition is a close one.