Athletics: "Flo-Jo", the myth and its questions for the first time approached

the sensation Thibaut Collet, Renaud Lavillenie on borrowed time

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Miramas (France) (AFP) – Sensation at the French Indoor Championships: pole vaulter Thibaut Collet seized the title with a leap to 5.81m which opens the doors to the Belgrade World Championships while Renaud Lavillenie is no longer assured of his place after finishing 5th, Sunday at Miramas.

At the end of a competition of exceptional density, Collet unbolted the Lavillenie statue by achieving the best result of his young career at the age of 22. The son of Philippe Collet, bronze medalist of the Euro in 1986, has thus beaten his personal best and will live in Serbia (March 18-20) his first major competition in the blue jersey.

Pole vaulter Thibaut Collet crosses a bar during the French Indoor Championships, February 27, 2022 in Miramas CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU AFP

Renaud Lavillenie did not go higher than 5.66m and had the misfortune to see his brother Valentin, victorious last year, finish 2nd with him also the minima for the World Championships in his pocket (5 .81m). Consequence: there are now three French people to have crossed the benchmark this season (Thibaud Collet, Renaud and Valentin Lavillenie), for only two qualified.

Pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie congratulates Thibaut Collet, new French indoor champion with a jump of 5.81 m, on February 27, 2022 in Miramas
Pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie congratulates Thibaut Collet, new French indoor champion with a jump of 5.81 m, on February 27, 2022 in Miramas CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU AFP

If we stick to the rules defined by the French Athletics Federation (FFA), in the event of a tie, the French champion has priority, the other criteria taken into account being the world ranking and past results in major competitions.

In this little game, Renaud Lavillenie, 6th in the ranking and covered with a record as long as his arm, is theoretically ahead of his younger brother, 11th in the world. But the games are far from over and FFA officials will have a few headaches when concocting the selection.

For Valentin Lavillenie, things are clear. If not summoned in blue, he would consider the decision as a “theft”. And too bad if his presence would be to the detriment of his big brother, 2012 Olympic champion and former world record holder (6.16 m).

“They will hear me speak”

“I’m not going to let anyone take my place, he said. I did what was necessary. I know that there are often shit at the fed, but if they don’t take me, they’ll take me hear about. There are three of us to do the minimums. Logically, the French Championships are the competition that counts the most. Am I going to take a bullet? I don’t know, but if that’s the case , it will sing.”

The joy of Valentin Lavillenie, 2nd in the pole vault competition at the French Indoor Championships, February 27, 2022 in Miramas
The joy of Valentin Lavillenie, 2nd in the pole vault competition at the French Indoor Championships, February 27, 2022 in Miramas CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU AFP

The mine of the bad days, Renaud Lavillenie logically had difficulty in cashing this nightmare scenario. Even if he wanted to display a certain serenity about the future choices of the FFA.

“On the balance sheets and everything else, I am in front of everyone, he explained. I think I have something to play for in Belgrade. We will see. there are more selectables than places, there are always disappointed people.”

The Clermontois has extenuating circumstances. His wife being about to give birth, he arrived at Miramas with his head elsewhere. An absence from the Indoor Worlds would in any case be a huge disappointment for the 35-year-old ex-king of pole vault, who is trying to revive after a 2021 season marred by injuries.

Pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie, 5th at the French Indoor Championships, February 27, 2022 in Miramas
Pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie, 5th at the French Indoor Championships, February 27, 2022 in Miramas CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU AFP

Far from these considerations, Thibaut Collet could only savor his achievement, performed under the eyes of his father.

“It’s the most beautiful competition of my life, said the one who shares his passion with his brother Mathieu, also committed to + France +. I’ve been putting everything in place to perform for several months. The result is fair incredible. With what I was doing in training, I suspected that I could get closer to 5.75 m. Today, I did everything in order, I was focused, and technically, I made my best jumps.”

The joy of pole vaulter Thibaut Collet, after clearing 5.81 m and winning the title at the French Indoor Championships, February 27, 2022 in Miramas
The joy of pole vaulter Thibaut Collet, after clearing 5.81 m and winning the title at the French Indoor Championships, February 27, 2022 in Miramas CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU AFP

Member of the Grenoble club, Collet trains three weeks a month with Renaud Lavillenie in Clermont under the orders of Philippe D’Encausse and now devotes himself full-time to pole vault after obtaining a BTS. He also has a job at the SNCF where he works “between 50 and 70 days a year”. Here he is now admitted to the big leagues of world athletics.

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