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Lavillenie seals treble, Pozzi hails Bannister in victory

Update: March, 05/2018 - 10:00
France’s Renaud Lavillenie claimed a third world indoor pole vault title. -- AFP Photo
Viet Nam News

BIRMINGHAM — France’s Renaud Lavillenie displayed all his experience to bag a third world indoor pole vault title on Sunday as Briton Andrew Pozzi hailed the late Roger Bannister as the inspiration behind his hurdles triumph.

In a bold show of gamesmanship, the Frenchman came into the competition at 5.70 metres -- which six of the 15-strong field failed to make -- passed at 5.80 and went clear at 5.85 and 5.90 after one failure at the latter.

With no fewer than nine men owning season’s bests of 5.88m or better, the pressure was on at the business end of a gripping vaulting display.

American Sam Hendricks (5.85) eventually took silver from Poland’s Piotr Lisek on countback as a host of rivals fell by the wayside.

But world record holder Lavillenie was left punching the air in triumph as he cleared 5.90 for a title to add to his previous wins in 2016 and 2012.

Fittingly on the day Bannister died aged 88, British team captain Pozzi said his victory in the 60m hurdles had been inspired by the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.

"Roger Bannister was an unbelievable athlete and unbelievable person," said Pozzi, whose winning 7.46sec edged American Jarret Eaton into silver.

"I’m very sorry that he has left us but I read one of his quotes before heading down to the track: ’Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up and it knows it must move faster than the lion or it will not survive’."

Two defending track champions stepped up to win successive titles, but there was no luck for Brittney Reese, the American bidding for a fourth world indoor long jump title who was pushed into silver by Serbian Ivana Spanovic.

Spanovic went out to 6.96m on her fourth jump to beat Reese by 7cm.

Ethiopian double 

In a slow tactical race, Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha produced a devastating last-lap spurt to defend his 3000m title with some ease, the 20-year-old crossing the line in 8:14.41 ahead of teenage teammate Selemon Barega.

"During the race I saw everyone was very confident, but I was the one controlling everybody," said Kejelcha, who said he would now target the 5000m world record of 12:37.35 set by his compatriot Kenenisa Bekele.

There was no holding back in the women’s 800m as Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba also successfully defended her title in 1:58.31, the fastest time run over the distance this season.

Niyonsaba held off a spirited effort from Ajee Wilson in a fast-finishing final lap, the American winning a second successive world indoor silver, with Briton Shelayna Oskan-Clarke taking bronze.

There was more Ethiopian glory as Samuel Tefera, just 18, hared home to win the men’s 1500m in 3:58.19.

A cagey opening saw the first 800m run in an incredibly slow 2:23 before

Morocco’s Abdelaati Iguider upped the pace, but Tefera came through for gold and Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski snatched silver ahead of the Moroccan who won the event in 2012.

Courtney Okolo won a second gold of the world indoors as she anchored the US women’s team to victory in the 4x400m relay in a new championship record of 3:23.85 ahead of Poland and Britain.

The time set by the US quartet also including Quanera Hayes, Georganne Moline and 400m silver medallist Shakima Wimbley beat the previous record set by Russia back in 2004 by three-hundredths of a second.

The men’s relay went the way of Poland, Jakub Krzewina anchoring a team comprising Karol Zalewski, Rafal Omelko and Lukasz Krawczuk to a world indoor record of 3:01.77, smashing the previous best set by the USA in Sopot in 2014.

Krzewina overhauled American Vernon Norwood in the final 15 metres for a memorable victory that shattered the US team’s bid for a seventh successive title, Belgium winning bronze. — AFP

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