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JO: Renaud Lavillenie “saw himself on the plane this evening for France”


Qualified for the pole vault final next Tuesday, the Frenchman returned to his fear of being eliminated because of his painful ankle. But also on his hope of winning, anyway, a 3e Olympic medal.

Special envoy to Tokyo

Renaud, how did you experience these qualifications, which you started badly with two failures at 5.50m before getting back to you perfectly and qualifying?
Renaud Lavillenie: I haven’t had such a tough competition in a long time. I was in such a stranger on so many points, which was both very complicated and at the same time very simple. When you don’t know where you’re going, you just have to go there without asking any questions. Which is very particular in a discipline as technical as the pole vault, and during a morning when the overall level was more than very good. So I went through a lot of feelings and I’m especially happy to have stayed on a positive at the end with a very important last jump, which could free me for the rest of the program.

Were you scared ?
Yes, frankly, I’m not going to hide from it. At one point, I saw myself on the plane tonight to return to France. It was complicated because there are a lot of things you don’t know and which made the context even harder than I could have imagined… I was super happy Sunday and last Monday to have been able to jump , to have been able to sprint. I thought it was cool, my ankle injury was starting to get behind me. And then we continued to work with the physiotherapists releasing a lot of tension and I had an inflammatory reaction directly. Because of this, I went two days without running. Which is tricky when you are two days away from your qualification …

Did your first jumps reassure you?
Yes and no. When you show up at the stadium without knowing if you are going to be able to give full impetus, mentally it’s very hard. I had to fight from the warm-up. It was not as good as I could hope for. I just reassured myself on a jump with a small pole. I then said to myself that I might be able to get out of it, but there was the catastrophe of the start of the competition with these two failures at 5.50m… To start with a third attempt at this height, I knew that I was shooting myself in the foot. Suddenly, I was aware that on one of the bars after, I had to make speak my experience, my power, to get back on my feet. So much the better, I did it at 5.75m, which was the determining bar. I’m glad I didn’t fall into the trap because at any time I could have done zero.

How do you see the rest and this final next Tuesday?
The good thing is that I never gave up. I never gave up and managed to endure my ankle pain. Now I am released, I have absolutely nothing to lose, I am in the Olympic final. I will do my best to make my ankle as competitive as possible. I want to join in the battle. I know that I have a lot to gain over the next three days and this psychological aspect will help me a lot to continue dreaming of a third Olympic medal. I know that deep down I can go get something big.

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