How Renaud Lavillenie Broke the Pole Vault Olympic Record | Olympics on the Record

How Renaud Lavillenie Broke the Pole Vault Olympic Record | Olympics on the Record


Sometimes in sport, as in life,
you just have to roll the dice. Renaud Lavillenie of France
is competing in the biggest event
of his sporting life – the men’s pole vault final, at the 2012 Olympic Games in
London. And he’s gambling everything
on one jump. You see, he’s currently
in the bronze medal position and he’s missed
his last two attempts. If he makes this one, he’ll move into the gold medal
position. If he misses, he still comes
third. An admirable achievement
for most athletes. But then,
Lavillenie isn’t most athletes. To understand why a man would
willingly take a risk in a moment like this,
you need to know more about Renaud Lavillenie.
Lavillenie likes risk. He likes living on the edge. Not many world-class athletes
relax racing motorbikes, but it works for him. The French have a long history
of excellence when it comes to Lavillenie’s favoured event. Jean Galfione was the second
Frenchman to win an Olympic gold medal,
with this jump back in 1996. For Lavillenie, pole vault
isn’t just a French thing, it’s a family thing. His father, Gilles Lavillenie,
was a vaulter. His brother Valentin also got
the vaulting bug at a young age. They never had to have the pole
vault explained to them. But for the rest of us,
here’s a quick guide. The athlete stands at the end
of a 40m-long track, carrying a long metal pole wrapped in sheets of
fibreglass. They sprint down the track,
place the tip of the pole into the launch box. As they jump up,
the pole bends dramatically. They attempt to pass over the
horizontal bar, releasing the pole. They come back down to Earth
onto padded matting, to break their fall. And then, they get up
and do it all over again. Most of us would stick to one
of life’s simpler pursuits, like neurosurgery! I always thought pole vaulting
was jumping over Polish people. No, Jan. This was Lavillenie’s life, although at 1.77m,
he was on the small side for a successful pole vaulter. Attempting to qualify for the
2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, young Renaud missed the
qualifying distance by 45cm. He did not give up. He doubled his efforts. He even built a full-size pole
vault track in his back garden in Clermont-Ferrand. Lavillenie was now
targeting London 2012, as his performances
steadily improved. In 2009, Lavillenie landed
his first major title, jumping 5.81m, to win the
European Indoor Championship. And just three months later, he joined the pole vaulters’
Six-Metre Club. In just two years, Lavillenie
had improved his personal best by over 70cm,
to become world number one. But reputations
don’t win gold medals. At the Olympic Games in London, he was up against a
heavyweight. Defending Olympic champion,
Steve Hooker of Australia, and the USA’s Brad Walker,
a former world champion, failed to mount
any kind of challenge. As others fell by the wayside,
that left just three remaining athletes
to fight it out for gold – Lavillenie and two Germans – the youngster Raphael Holzdeppe
and veteran, Bjorn Otto. The bar was now raised to
5.91m. Holzdeppe cleared it. Otto cleared it. Lavillenie didn’t clear it, which left him a choice. With two more attempts left,
he could either try them at this height
or he could raise the bar. If he could pull out one big
jump, it would put him in sole
possession of the top spot and put
the pressure on the others. Lavillenie decided to go for
it. The bar was raised to 5.97m. Bold, ambitious, unsuccessful. Which brings us back
to where we started. Lavillenie – one more shot,
one more chance at glory. Everything was riding
on this one jump. Oh, my!! The Frenchman has done it! A new Olympic record, at 5.97m. That would have
outjumped a T-Rex! Phew! When Otto failed at 6.02,
in his final attempt, Lavillenie had won Olympic
gold. The two Germans were very
strong, so it pushed me to my limits. The limits, indeed. But that’s where Lavillenie
likes to be. It’s a dream. Wow.

87 Replies to “How Renaud Lavillenie Broke the Pole Vault Olympic Record | Olympics on the Record”

  1. I like how Otto is smiling when he failed the jump, like he is admitting Lavillenie completely deserve that gold medal.

  2. Always hate how he was treated in Brazil. I will never ever ever support Brazil in the Olympics after how they treated this fella.

  3. How in the world that he got to put himself that high carrying that heavy balls at the same time?

  4. Pole Vault poles do not have long metal poles in them. They are strictly either Fiber Glass or Carbon Fiber. (Or a hybrid of both) Metal has not been used as poles in the pole vault for decades.

  5. The french are good at pole vaulting because it helps to be able to cross wide streams and get over high walls when retreating. It's the same story with Parkour

  6. This is a breathtaking story of Lavillenie as a pole-vaulter. It's his dream to be the greatest pole-vaulter. He deserves to take home the gold award.

  7. You're not taking a risk if you have everything to gain and nothing to lose… He would have kept bronze if he failed and gold if he made it…. that's not a risk.

  8. "Taking a risk"
    He was already bronze, in the narrators own words "A great achievement among athletes"
    Its the exact opposite of taking a risk He literally had nothing to lose.

  9. Was he really risking everything!? He was in Bronze and if he got the jump he wins Gold, if he didn't he still had Bronze.

  10. It's a french thing, huh? My dad was a pole vaulter and his last name is Dupuis, but I'm a distance runner… so…

  11. There is a very BIG lesson to learn from this vaulter's experience in public: Envision something, believe it can be done, have confidence and with patience use ONE STEP at a TIME, to make it come to fruition.

  12. There's literally no risk involved in this. If he gets it he movies up, if he doesn't get it he still gets bronze. So stuiped

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