Lavillenie attempts pole vault record, Fredonia native Jenn Suhr wins gold

(Photo courtesy: @JennSuhr)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — France’s Renaud Lavillenie attempted to break his own world record in the pole vault, but settled for the gold medal in the event Thursday night at the world indoor track and field championships.

Lavillenie bested American Sam Kendricks for the championship, successfully clearing 19 feet, 9 inches. He then set the bar at 20-2 ¾, in the bid to surpass his own record — indoor and outdoor — of 20-2 ½ inches, set in 2014 at an event in the Ukraine. He missed all three attempts.

Kendricks, the reigning outdoor national champion who won the U.S. indoor title last week with a personal-best vault of 19-4 ¼, missed at that height for the silver medal. Poland’s Piotr Lisek took the bronze, finishing with a vault of 18-10 ¼.

World indoor record holder, reigning Olympic gold medalist and Fredonia native Jenn Suhr made all four of her vaults and easily cleared a meet record 16-0 ¾ for the gold. Fellow American Sandi Morris won the silver and Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece won the bronze.

The men’s and women’s pole vault was the only competition following opening ceremonies at the Oregon Convention Center venue on Thursday night. The meet runs through Sunday.

Lavillenie, who won the indoors in 2012 before going on to win the gold medal at the London Olympics that summer, passed on five of six heights but hit the height to beat Kendricks and pumped his fists.

His second attempt at the world record was a bit scary when he landed between the pads. But he laughed when he rose.

“It’s not so often that I do something like that. It happens,” he said afterward. “Pole vault is very dangerous and intense.”

The men’s field also included Canadian Shawnacy Barber, who won the gold medal at the world outdoor championships in Beijing last year. Barber and Lavillenie battled last month in France with Lavillenie coming out on top. This time, Barber finished in fourth.

Lavillenie earlier cleared the year’s world-best height of 19-9 ¼.

The competition featured the first pole vault field — indoor or outdoor — where four women cleared 15-9.

At last week’s U.S. indoor championships, Morris bested Suhr with a vault of 16-2 ¾ inches. Morris couldn’t clear that height on her final leap.

Just last month Suhr broke her own indoor world record in her home state, clearing 16-6 at the Brockport Golden Eagle Multi and Invitational at SUNY Brockport.

The crowd was excited when it was announced that Suhr might attempt a world record, but she ultimately decided against it because of a sore calf.

Outdoor world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva, a two-time gold medalist, was not in the field because the Russian federation is suspended from competition because of doping and corruption allegations. The IAAF, the sport’s governing body, is expected to decide in May whether Russia can compete in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Isinbayeva has been working her way back to the sport after a long layoff because of the birth of her daughter. An apparent Achilles injury last month further slowed her comeback.

Also missing is defending indoor champion Yarisley Silva of Cuba, who withdrew after her fiancé, high jumper Sergio Mestre, was hospitalized following a training accident.

Australia’s Alana Boyd hurt her ankle during warmups and was taken to a local hospital for X-Rays. Preliminary tests indicated she had a sprained left ankle.

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