At first last year it was Istanbul, then it was Helsinki, before London was next. Now Göteborg can be added to the list of the venues where the men’s pole vault became a duel between France and Germany.

And, as at the World Indoor Championships, European Athletics Championships and the Olympic Games, the outcome at these European Athletics Indoor Championships was exactly the same: gold to the remarkable Renaud Lavillenie, silver to Björn Otto.

Lavellinie won with a height of 6.01m but the event ended with him thinking he had cleared 6.07m.

The bar had wobbled but not fallen off, but then it was ruled as a foul because it had moved onto another part of the frame which had prevented it falling.

The French star’s initial joy was met by upset as he lay on the track.

But as he digested the success, his victory arriving with a best-in-the-world clearance, he was delighted as he won this European Athletics Indoor title for the third time in a row.

Lavillenie said: “The gold medal was the most important thing and I got it with a huge performance.

“It was a strong competition, each height I went over at the first attempt, I was very high and the work is paying off.

“The rules say it was not ok at 6.07m, but it is good for the future. It is quite a run I am on and I can keep on winning at Championships. I cannot be sad.”

Of the eight competitors in the final here at the Scandinavium Arena, the remaining six failed to go past the 5.81m mark.

Lavillenie and Otto passed. They were seeking greater heights to attack and when the bar was raised to 5.86m, so the French star who has dominated the event this winter duly obliged as he went over first time.

Otto is 35, but age does not trouble his acrobatic ability and he was so close with his first go at the new height. He twisted in mid-air just before he reached the bar, only to narrowly hit it and watch in agony as it fell.

Two attempts left for him as he passed, with Lavillenie, who began the event as the leader on the European rankings with 5.94m, going over at 5.91m and then 5.96m.

Wow!

The standard had been set for Otto, nine years older than Lavillenie, to see what he could do.
Otto’s best of 2013 was 5.90m but at 5.96m he was nowhere near, never gaining enough height to even think about going over.

Lavillenie, though, raised the bar to 6.01m in a fantastic programme where he had had five vaults and not failed on any of them.

And with speed on the runway and a precise take off, he did it again.

He was smiling even before he hit the mat, leaping up quickly to dash across the side of the track, his right hand punching the air in delight before he saw his coaches and officials and celebrated with them.

At that stage the gold medal was won. Now Otto had to produce something from nowhere to keep this event alive but it was not his day.

He was not rushing. But after preparing with a practice run up, when it came to the vault he lost his momentum and did not even spring on the stick, following through and landing on the mat.

Once again it was silver for Otto with fellow German Mohr winning bronze, also at 5.76m on countback, but Lavillenie was not finished yet.

With an indoor personal best of 6.03m, he wanted to break that but then came the first blot on his perfect programme as he failed at 6.07m twice. The next time the bar stayed, but moved just that bit and the red flag went up.

But having won this title in Torino with 5.81m before retaining it for the first time in Paris with 6.03m, he had made yet another emphatic statement that he is just unstoppable….

Photo: Getty Images

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