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SATURDAY, 19 APR 2014
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Lavillenie wins pole vault with Olympic record
Associated Press
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LONDON: In-form Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie won Olympic pole vault gold on Friday after reigning champion Steve Hooker bowed out without clearing a single height.

Lavillenie claimed his first global outdoor title with a new Olympic record of 5.97m. German pair Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe took silver and bronze after both cleared 5.91m.

The battle for gold was whittled down to a three-man tussle after Lavillenie, Otto and Holzdeppe all cleared 5.85m.

The German pair then both went over at 5.91m at their first attempts to crank up the pressure as the European champion failed in his only attempt but, facing elimination, he kept his calm to produce a best of 5.97m.

Lavillenie, 25, has been a consistent performer over the past three years.

He cleared 5.97 meters at the 2012 European championships to claim his second continental gold medal after his victory in 2010. He is also the world indoor champion and won world championships bronze medals in 2009 and 2011.

Australia's Hooker, 30, failed with three attempts to clear 5.65 meters, a full 41cm under his personal best and could only look on ruefully as the competition unfolded without him.

A clearly rattled Hooker failed to complete his first two efforts at the height and pulled up on his third attempt with only 50 seconds to go after a botched run-up, leaving himself under time pressure as he crashed into the bar.

Hooker won the Olympic gold medal in Beijing in 2008, the 2009 world title, the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medals and the 2010 world indoor championships.

But his recent career has been hit by a persistent knee injury and an accompanying lack of confidence that has led to "yips" on the runway, making it difficult for him to take off.

At last year's world championships in Daegu, South Korea, he did not register a mark after failing three times during qualification.

 
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