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Athletics | International

Renaud Lavillenie © Getty Images

Lavillenie cruises into final, Thiam takes heptathlon lead

World record holder Renaud Lavillenie advanced smoothly to the final of the pole vault at the European championships in in Berlin, Germany, on Friday, needing just two successful attempt to progress.

The Frenchman is a three-time European outdoor champion, but no marked in Amsterdam two years ago, something for which he is keen to atone.

He vaulted clear at his entry mark of 5.51m and then again at 5.61, which was sufficient to advance to the 12-man final.

"I was not happy with my performance," maintained Lavillenie, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist who won silver in Rio and also has one world outdoor silver and four bronze medals to his name.

"The wind was turning around and it was difficult. Now I can focus on the next step. In the final I want to jump as high as possible.

"This morning was kind of a test for my knee which had been injured. Luckily it worked pretty well for me."

Lavillenie's main rivals in his bid for a fourth continental title will likely be Sweden's Armand Duplantis, Polish pair Pawel Wojciechowski and Piotr Lisek, and Timur Morgunov, the Russian competing under a neutral flag because his country remains banned over a state-sponsored doping programme.

To the anguish of the home crowd, Raphael Holzdeppe did not make the cut for Sunday's final, the 2013 world champion and 2015 silver medallist no marking three times at 5.51m.

"After the second attempt I knew that I would also not be able to clear the third attempt," the 28-year-old German said.

"My body did not want to. It was difficult. Before the national championships I was in such a great shape. But I injured my flexor at the national championships and I had to cure that in the last weeks.

"I simply could not get more out of my body at this qualification. This is extremely annoying. I thought about these home championships in Berlin already last year, before London.

"Now I will need some days to digest this. I hope that next year will be more like 2013 or 2015 when I was not suffering from injuries."

Belgian Nafissatou Thiam's bid to add European glory to her world and Olympic heptathlon titles is down to the wire against Britain's Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

The Briton followed up on her new heptathlon championship best of 22.88sec in Thursday's 200m by going out to 6.68m in Friday's opening long jump.

Thiam managed a second best jump of 6.60, meaning Johnson-Thompson extended her overnight lead to 113 points.

But the Belgian turned the screw in the javelin, Johnson-Thompson's weakest event, launching out to a heptathlon championship best of 57.91m.

The Briton could only manage 42.16m, albeit a personal record. In heptathlon points, the difference, however, equated to a massive 305.

It means Thiam will start the final event, the 800m, with a 192-point lead having leapfrogged into pole.

In 800m terms, it means Thiam has a 13.5-second advantage over Johnson-Thompson.


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