Big blow for the Blues. Arrived in great shape in Poland, the French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie had to give up on Friday at the European Indoor Championships in athletics in Torun because of a right calf injury, on the eve of his entry into the competition.
The 2012 Olympic champion, whose duel with the world record holder Armand Duplantis (6.18 m) was to be one of the highlights of this Euro, will not be able to run for a 5th continental crown indoors and leaves the way open to the prodigy Swedish (21 years old). Candidate declared for victory after a very successful start to winter, Lavillenie threw in the towel after feeling pain during a training session on Friday morning. “I felt a sharp pain in the right calf during a classic exercise, explained the French (34 years old) quoted in a press release published by the French Athletics Federation (FFA). In the process, I spent time with the physiotherapist and I gave myself the time of the day to see the evolution. But tonight, the evolution is not significant enough and I do not want to aggravate the injury to risk compromising the Olympics this summer. ” “It’s a very difficult decision for me because I’m a competitor but with the beautiful winter I’ve had, I don’t want to lose everything for the summer season,” he added.
Duplantis without rival
This package deprives the French team of one of its leaders and of one of its best chances for a gold medal with the world record holder in the decathlon Kevin Mayer, engaged in the heptathlon, and the hurdler Wilhem Belocian (60m hurdles), who are due to start the Euro on Saturday. This injury also cuts Lavillenie in his tracks after a particularly remarkable indoor season. The Clermontois had indeed returned to his best level by doing two jumps this winter over 6 m (6.02 m on January 31 in Tourcoing, 6.06 m on February 27 in Aubière). He had not exceeded this symbolic bar since March 2016 and was even starting to talk about the world record of which Duplantis dispossessed him in February 2020. Lavillenie, whose last major championship ended in a big failure (elimination in qualifying) at the Worlds in 2019), had a little revenge to take but he wished not to take any risk in view of his main goal in 2021, the Tokyo Olympics where he hopes to climb on the podium for the third time in a row after 2012 gold and 2016 silver.
In the absence of Lavillenie, Armand Duplantis is now the favorite of the pole vault competition whose qualifications are scheduled on Saturday and the final on Sunday. The 2018 European champion has the best performance of 2021 with a jump to 6.10 m succeeded on February 24 in Belgrade (Serbia) and should theoretically have no opponent to his measure in Torun. Deprived of their pole-vault leader, the Blues will have to count on Renaud Lavillenie’s younger brother, Valentin, just crowned French indoor champion, and on the young Ethan Cormont, who will discover a great competition for the first time at the age of 20. international.