The Internationales Stadionfest in Berlin (ISTAF) has never had a pole-vault competition like it! All five medallists from the World Championships in Peking will be converging on Berlin for the world’s oldest and best-attended athletics meeting on 6th September.
The line-up will include the surprise world champion Shawnacy Barber (Canada), the Peking silver medallist Raphael Holzdeppe (Zweibrücken), world record holder Renaud Lavillenie (France) and Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski from Poland, who took bronze with vaults that equalled the height cleared by Lavillenie.
The men’s pole vault in Peking’s Olympic stadium was a thrilling competition with an unforeseen outcome. Few experts would have predicted that the French supremo, Lavillenie, would once again be thwarted in his bid for his first World Championship gold, such had been the strength of his appearances so far this season, with two 6-metre vaults. Yet after clearing 5.80m at his first attempt he failed three times with the bar at 5.90m, a height which Shawnacy Barber vaulted in one go and title holder Raphael Holzdeppe in two attempts. Neither managed 6 metres.
And now they are all pitching up for the re-match at the 74th ISTAF in Berlin.
Serial champ Renaud Lavillenie will be raring to demonstrate that his defeat in Peking was only a brief blip while Shawnacy Barber and Raphael Holzdeppe will want to repeat their achievement and put another spanner in the Frenchman’s works. And who can say that one of the strong Polish contenders won’t grab a place on the podium?
In the words of Director Martin Seeber: “You hardly ever see a line-up of this calibre outside of a World Championships or Olympic Games. We’re really chuffed that the best athletes in the world have agreed to compete. Shawnacy Barber is the second Peking world champion after Christina Schwanitz to have signed up. That’s not to say it won’t be a few more by the time all the names are in.”