Lavillenie seeking new heights in pole vault
French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie speaks to journalists at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy-en-France, near Paris, on February 16, 2014 - by Kenzo Tribouillard
Arriving back home in Paris to a hero's welcome, the 27-year-old Frenchman said that he was having some difficulty taking in the extent of his achievement which broke Ukraine legend Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old world record.
"I am never going to stop," he said. "There is just no reason to stop fighting to better this record.
"Bubka is not just an ordinary athlete. It is quite amazing."
"It's certain, I am not going to clear 6.35 metres. Already to have done one (world record), it is already huge.
"If in the years to come I can do one or two others, that would be extraordinary.
"But there is also every chance that may never happen."
The slightly-built Lavillenie came through the aiport arrival gates hobbling on crutches having injured his left ankle in attempting to clear 6.21 metres after his record jump in Ukraine.
He failed to complete the jump, injuring the ankle as he fell backwards. The fall resulted in a bad laceration on the inside of his foot that required a visit to hospital for 12 stiches to be inserted.
Lavillenie said that at this stage he did not know if the injury would prevent him from defending his world indoors pole vault title in Sopot, Poland, from March 7-9.
"I need to at least try to do something there," he said. "It's just the way I am."
Lavillenie said he would undergo some medical tests on the injury in Paris on Monday after which he would hold a news conference.
- The New Czar -
The reigning Olympic champion arrived home to an outpouring of praise from all quarters in a country where pole-vaulting is held in the loftiest esteem.
"The New Czar," headlined L'Equipe newspaper saying his giant leap in Ukraine had been "a major landmark in the history of sport."
Bubka, who still holds the outdoor world record of 6.14m set in 1994, was on hand in Donetsk to congratulate the man who finally took away his world record mark.
"A new era in the sport has arrived," said the 50-year-old, who has forged a new career in sports administration and is a prominent member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
"Today the winner is an Olympic champion, someone who already has tasted success several times.
"We were anticipating this happening and we are delighted that it happened here in Donetsk.
"I like this guy a lot.
"I am sure that it is not the last time he will do this and that other stunning successes await him."
Countryman Jean Galfione, who won the 1996 Olympic gold medal, said that his record leap had been "remarkable" and that Lavillenie knew no limits.
"Doing better than Bubka, it's like going faster than Usain Bolt, having better stats than Michael Jordan. He has just dethroned a legend," he said.
"He isn't the strongest, he isn't the tallest, he isn't the fastest. He clocks 11 seconds for 100 metres, nothing exceptional. But with a pole vault in his hands he becomes great."
Lavillenie, who has yet to win the world outdoor title having garnered two bronzes in 2009 and 2011 and silver last year, had arrived in Donetsk in prime form having broken his own personal record twice last month.
At 27, the Frenchman has, barring injury, several years of top class vaulting ahead of him and he has already made it clear that he intends to compete "at least until 2020", taking in the Summer Olympics of Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and Tokyo four years later.