London 2012: Lavillenie wins pole vault gold

Updated: 11 August 2012 20:24 IST

Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie won Olympic pole vault gold on Friday after Australia's reigning champion Steve Hooker bowed out without clearing a single height.

London 2012: Lavillenie wins pole vault gold
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London:

Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie won Olympic pole vault gold on Friday after Australia's reigning champion Steve Hooker bowed out without clearing a single height.

The in-form 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 vault six centimetres higher.

It was France's first gold medal of the London Games in the event, and followed a rich French tradition in the men's Olympic pole vault after victories for Pierre Quinon in 1984 and Jean Galfione in 1996.

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

He cleared 5.97m 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.

Hooker looked out of sorts as he failed at three attempts to clear 5.65m, a full 35cm below his personal best outdoors. The 30-year-old 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 what he calls "yips" on the runway, making it difficult for him to take off.

At last year's world championships in Daegu, South Korea, he no-heighted in qualification.

Topics : Athletics Olympics 2012
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