PORTLAND, Oregon – American Jennifer Suhr and Renaud Lavillenie of France secured the first gold medals at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships here in Portland, Oregon on Thursday night.
World Indoor record holder Suhr bounced back from her defeat at the US Championships in this same building last week by winning the women’s pole vault title with a championships record clearance of 4.90m.
The previous World Indoor championships record of 4.86 was set by Yelena Isinbaeva of Russia in 2004.
“It was great to complete my indoor season with the world indoor title, and I’ve jumped a championship record today, a world record earlier,” Suhr said.
“But I still feel like there is so much more in me in terms of performance, so I strive to do better.”
The Olympic champion entered the competition at 4.60m and had a clean series throughout the competition while passing at heights 4.70m and 4.80m.
She admits to not liking to skip heights but was satisfied with the calls made by her coach and husband, Richard Suhr.
“I hate to skip heights. But it’s something you have to do in the pole vault,” she said. “My coach and husband was making the calls on that and I just had to trust him.”
American champion Sandi Morris, who defeated Suhr at the trials, was unable to match her personal best (4.95m), but won the silver medal with a clearance 4.85m.
After missing at 4.90m, Morris advanced the bar to 4.95m to challenge for the gold medal, but was unsuccessful.
It was the first time one nation was sweeping the pole vault at the World Indoors since Russia did so in 2003.
Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece, who had a clean card until 4.85m, grabbed the bronze with 4.80m, after failing at 4.85m and twice at 4.90m.
Meanwhile, in the men’s competition, pre-champion favourite Lavillenie also cleared a World Indoor championship record of 6.02m to strike gold.
The French star started his journey at 5.75m before passing heights until 5.90m, which he cleared at the first time of asking.
After USA’s Sam Kendricks failed in his bid to clear the height, the 2012 champion advanced the bar to 6.02m and went over on his first attempt as well.
Lavillenie failed in his three bids at 6.17m — chasing the world record, but he was still delighted with winning the gold medal.
“I’m happy to take the win and to get another six-metre jump,” he said. “I have plenty of time to get the world record.”
Kendricks took the silver with 5.80m, while the bronze went to Poland’s Piotr Lisek, with 5.75m.
World outdoor champion Shawnacy Barber of Canada struggled with his rhythm on Thursday night and failed to win a medal.