Renaud Lavillenie very nearly lost his world pole vault record to Sweden’s Armand Duplantis in Dusseldorf on Tuesday (4) night when he had an exceptionally close second attempt at 6.17m but the Frenchman himself is closing in on another record.
Lavillenie cleared 5.80m on his season’s debut in Bordeaux last month. This was the 148th time Lavillenie has cleared 5.80m or higher in a competition and the 33-year-old could quite possibly reach the 150 mark before the end of the indoor campaign.
His next competition is the Perche Elite Tour in Rouen on Saturday (8) where Lavillenie will face the two current global outdoor champions at the first of three European Athletics Indoor Special Premium Permit Meetings on the calendar.
A previous four-time winner of this meeting, Lavillenie will renew his rivalry with both two-time world outdoor champion Sam Kendricks from the United States and Olympic champion Thiago Braz from Brazil. Lavillenie and Kendricks crossed paths for the first time this season in Karlsruhe last weekend with Lavillenie prevailing with a 5.70m clearance to beat his younger brother Valentin on countback.
Kendricks had a rare off-evening in Karlsruhe, finishing ninth with 5.50m but he equalled his season’s best of 5.80m in Dusseldorf to finish second to Duplantis. Kendricks also won in Rouen twelve months ago with a 5.90m clearance.
Braz will be competing for the first time this season and he is also due to face Lavillenie at the ISTAF Indoor in Berlin on 14 February.
Duplantis isn’t competing in Rouen but the European outdoor champion will be in action at the Copernicus Cup in Torun, the host city of the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships, which takes place on the same evening.
Lavillenie’s record in Rouen
2013 - 1st 5.92m
2014 - 1st 6.04m (meeting record)
2015 - 1st 6.00m
2016 - 4th 5.70m
2017 - 7th 5.50m
2018 - 1st 5.90m
There will be a different winner of the women’s pole vault competition this year with Katie Nageotte from the United States and meeting record-holder Ekaterini Stefanidi from Greece both absent but a strong field has been assembled nonetheless.
The line-up features three of the top-six finishers from the World Athletics Championships in Doha last September: Great Britain’s Holly Bradshaw, Canada’s Alysha Newman and Angelica Bengtsson from Sweden. All three vaulters cleared 4.80m in Doha and were only separated on countback.
Bradshaw began her season with victory at the Meeting de Paris Indoor last weekend although she had to share the spoils with French record-holder Ninon Guillon-Romarin. Both vaulters recorded identical cards all the way through to 4.71m and couldn't be separated on a sudden death jump-off either.
European outdoor silver medallist Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou from Greece will also be making her season's debut in Rouen.
Full start lists can be found here.