Renaud Lavillenie breaks indoor pole vault world record of Sergei Bubka

Renaud Lavillenie celebrates after winning the gold medal in the pole vault at the 2012 London Olympics.
(Franck Fife / AFP / Getty Images)

Pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie of France broke one of track and field’s oldest records when he cleared 6.16 meters (20 feet 2 1/2 inches) to beat Sergei Bubka’s 21-year-old indoor record with Bubka cheering from the stands in Donetsk, Ukraine, on Saturday.

Lavillenie cleared the bar comfortably in Bubka’s home city, almost to the day the pole vault great achieved 6.15 (20-2) on Feb 21, 1993.

Lavillenie, the reigning Olympic champion, looked wild-eyed and pumped his arms in delight as he realized he’d set a record, and was congratulated by Bubka, who had stood to applaud.


“I think it’s going to take me some time to come back to earth because it’s incredible,” Lavillenie said on French news channel BFM TV. “This is a world record that is so mythical, and to clear it on the first jump, without touching (the bar) — there’s nothing to say. It’s just a moment to savor.”

In fact, he cleared it so easily that he could well have beaten the record by even more.

Bubka, the Olympic champion in 1988, set multiple indoor and outdoor world records including the top seven indoor marks, and he was quick to praise his successor.

“I think this is a great day, a fantastic performance, I am very happy that Renaud did this record in my home city where I did 6.15,” the 50-year-old Bubka said on BFM TV. “I’m very happy and proud for him, because he’s a great athlete and a fantastic role model.”

Bubka still holds the outdoor record at 6.14 meters, set in 1994.