By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
DOHA (Reuters) – French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie, the world record holder, said he wasn’t able to recover his composure after “stupid things” threw him off course in qualifying at the world athletics championships on Saturday.
The 33-year-old, who has won medals in five consecutive world championships, was eliminated after failing in his three attempts at clearing 5.70 meters.
“It was a goal to be in the final as I have done in the past. But it happens,” the two-times Olympic medalist said.
Lavillenie said he had found himself in the wrong rhythm when trying to clear 5.70m.
“Despite all my experience I wasn’t able to get out of it,” he said. “That’s the qualifications trap. I’m not the first to miss them and I certainly won’t be the last.”
Lavillenie’s rival Armand Duplantis, the reigning European champion from Sweden, fought his jitters to secure a spot in the final by clearing 5.75m on his third and final attempt.
“I got a little too comfortable in the 5.75m. It was a mistake,” the 19-year-old told Reuters. “But I move on. I live to see another day.”
Duplantis, who has trained with Lavillenie in the past, said the Frenchman’s absence from the final on Tuesday would be felt by other competitors.
“It’s not going to be as fun out there without him,” Duplantis said. “I think I jump better when I’m jumping with him. It just wasn’t his day today.”
Valentin Lavillenie, Renaud’s brother, and Sam Kendricks of the United States, who is the season’s leader with a personal best of 6.06m, qualified for the final.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, editing by Ed Osmond)