Lavillenie breaks 21yo indoor pole vault record

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Associated Press

Posted on February 15, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Updated Saturday, Feb 15 at 2:06 PM

Pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie broke one of athletics' oldest records when he cleared 6.16 meters to beat Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old indoor record with Bubka cheering from the stands in Donetsk, Ukraine on Saturday.

Lavillenie cleared the bar comfortably in Bubka's home city, almost to the day the pole vault great achieved 6.15 on Feb 21, 1993.

Lavillenie, the reigning Olympic champion, looked wild-eyed and pumped his arms in delight as he realized he'd set a record, and was congratulated by Bubka, who had stood to applaud.

"I think it's going to take me some time to come back to earth because it's incredible," Lavillenie said on French news channel BFM TV. "This is a world record that is so mythical, and to clear it on the first jump, without touching (the bar) — there's nothing to say. It's just a moment to savor."

In fact, he cleared it so easily that he could well have beaten the record by even more.

Bubka, the Olympic champion in 1988, set multiple indoor and outdoor world records including the top seven indoor marks, and he was quick to praise his successor.

"I think this is a great day, a fantastic performance, I am very happy that Renaud did this record in my home city where I did 6.15," the 50-year-old Bubka said on BFM TV. "I'm very happy and proud for him, because he's a great athlete and a fantastic role model."

He also hugged Lavillenie, and revealed the two Olympic gold medalists even speculated together the night before that a record might happen.

"I'm not disappointed because I thought this already before, even yesterday when we had a discussion about the record with Renaud," Bubka said. "I felt it would be great if this guy could continue and receive the baton from me and bring glory to athletics."

"It's normal (that I am happy), I only do things to help athletes," he added. "It's my duty, it's my job, to provide full support to make history for them and they make history for us. For all people who love sport and love athletics. I'm a happy man."

Bubka still holds the outdoor record, of 6.14 in 1994.

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AP writer Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed.

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