Pandemonium in Doha

Posted: Friday 12th March 2010 | 9:32
From Sportsbeat staff, in Doha

WORLD number one pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie has become the first major casualty of the World Indoor Athletics Championships as the Frenchman bowed out of qualifying in Doha.

The 23-year-old has achieved a best clearance of 5.85m this season but could manage only 5.45m in Doha before failing with all three attempts at 5.60m.

Lavillenie was not the only surprise casualty of the pole vault competition however, as the USA’s Timothy Mack, the Olympic champion in 2004, also failed to clear 5.60m.

Current Olympic champion Steve Hooker, who has already cleared 5.91m outdoors this season in his native Australia will now head into the final as favourite, having cleared 5.60m at the first time of asking.

Great Britain’s Steve Lewis scraped through to the final by the skin of his teeth, clearing both 5.45m and 5.60m with his third effort after shaking off an early injury to his elbow.

But Lewis believes [b]poor organisation of the qualifying session was to blame for everyone’s poor form with all 19 jumpers out there at the same time vying for their place in the final.

“I was always confident I could jump 5.60m so I was pretty relaxed but it was absolute pandemonium out there,” said Lewis.

"The officials really didn’t know what they were doing and at one point some of the equipment failed and the instructions were in Spanish so they had no idea what to do.

"It was a comedy of errors, there were people all over the track and it was 40 minutes between jumps.[/b]

"I smashed my elbow on the bar as I went over and it was incredibly painful.

“My elbows seem to stick out a bit so I’ve done it before and fortunately it was my bottom hand so even though it was a little numb I could continue.”

The original qualifying standard was 5.75m or the best eight athletes but with nine having cleared 5.60m after more than three hours of competition, organisers opted to call an end to proceedings.

Meanwhile, Oleksiy Kasyanov of the Ukraine has moved into the lead in the heptathlon with an impressive showing in the long jump, leaping out to 7.78m, good enough for 1005 points.

Kasayanov, the silver medallist at the European Indoor Championships in Turin last year, had clocked a time of 6.93 seconds in the 60m which earned him 907 points, giving him a total of 1912.

That puts him ahead of Olympic decathlon champion Bryan Clay and his American compatriot and world champion Trey Hardee, who are second and third respectively.

Clay led the way after the 60m sprint and managed 7.27m in the long jump, putting him sixth in the event, one behind Hardee, who leapt just a centimetre further, giving him a total of 1836 - 45 behind Clay.

This pandemonium gave Lewis a place in the final, no? It seems a very open final!