DONETSK, February 15- Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie broke Sergei Bubka’s 21-year-old indoor pole vault world record on Saturday at the same Donetsk meeting where the Ukrainian great set the old mark in 1993.
Lavillenie, the Olympic champion, vaulted 6.16 metres at his first attempt to improve the record by one centimetre and to make the moment sweeter Bubka was present to witness it and was among the first to congratulate him.
Lavillenie, or ‘Airvallenie’ as his fans nickname him, put his head in his hands and ran round the auditorium celebrating.
Bubka, who still holds the outdoor world record of 6.14m set in 1994, didn’t stop to make any remarks to local television.
Lavillenie, who subsequently made an unsuccessful attempt at 6.21m, revealed he had changed his pole in between the successful attempt at 6.01m and the record vault, something he had never done before.
“It was totally crazy. I wanted to do my best. It was incredible,” said the 27-year-old.
“I asked for 6.16m because it was the best place to break the record of Sergei Bubka, 21 years after he set the mark.
“I thought it was the best place to try as the best was there,” he added, referring to Bubka’s presence.
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.