Athletics: Lavillenie claims ‘international home containment’ title


PARIS (Reuters) – France’s former Olympic pole vault champion Renaud Lavillenie has found a way to keep his competitive juices flowing during the coronavirus lockdown by staging an “international home containment competition”.

While some elite athletes have been struggling to find ways of staying fit while confined to their homes, the 33-year-old former world record holder has taken full advantage of the jumping set-up at his home in central France.

Lavillenie, who won Olympic gold in London and silver in Rio, posted a video on Twitter of one jump on Saturday, when he raced down the garden path and soared 5.61 metres into the bright blue skies above Pérignat-lès-Sarliève in Auvergne.

“Day 20,” he wrote above the video, which was accompanied by his own commentary. “Everything is under control! Tears of joy on my face after a 5m61 today during my international home containment competition.”

Although the mark was well short of the 6.16m he jumped to end Sergey Bubka’s 20-year hold on the world record in 2014, it would have been good enough for eighth on the outdoor world list for 2020, albeit in a season which barely got underway.

Lavillenie also revealed that he was closing in on his “home world record” of 5.85m.

During his 20 days of self-isolation, Lavillenie has been regularly posting updates of creative efforts to stay fit, including bench-pressing a toddler and weightlifting using car tyres.

Lavillenie will have to wait another year for a third bid at Olympic glory after the Tokyo 2020 Games were put back by 12 months because of the COVID-19 outbreak, which by Saturday had infected nearly 90,000 and killed 7,560 people in France.

In 2021 he will likely have to contend with Swede Armand Duplantis, who bettered Lavillenie’s world record by a centimetre indoors in February before improving it to 6.18m at the World Athletics Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix a week later.

Writing by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford