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Athletics: Lavillenie targets hat-trick at Euro indoors

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Renaud Lavillenie has made the men's pole vault discipline his own over recent seasons, and the Frenchman will head to the European Indoor Championships full of confidence in his goal of a hat-trick of titles.

Olympic champion Lavillenie has dominated the indoor season so far, winning all eight of his competitions and setting a best of 5.94 metres as part of a series of consistent vaults that have put his closest German trio of rivals in the shade.

"I'm very happy. 5.94m is a really good performance," said the 26-year-old, who won golds at the last two Euro indoors in Paris and Turin and is also reiging world indoor champion after his triumph in Istanbul last year.

"I missed 6m by a whisker. I'm telling myself that I'm really close for the Euros, where the goal will be to be yet more consistent... to be capable of delivering the maximum without any faults."

Lavillenie, undoubtedly the biggest star to compete in the March 1-3 event given the absence of the likes of Britain's double Olympic track gold medallist Mo Farah, will face competition nonetheless from German veteran Bjorn Otto.

Otto, the vaulter who holds the other two of the top seven marks in the world this year, had to settle for silver behind Lavillenie at both the world indoors and Olympics in London last summer.

However, with a pair of impressive 5.90m vaults behind him this winter the 35-year-old German champion should not be discounted, along with his teammates Raphael Holzdeppe (5.82m), the 2012 Olympic and European bronze medallist and Malte Mohr (5.80m), the 2011 European indoor bronze medallist.

Lavillenie's in-form sprinting teammate Jimmy Vicaut will be eyeing victory in the 60m, where he will come up against British veteran Dwain Chambers, while Christophe Lemaitre skips the indoors.

Italian Michael Tumi heads the season's best times with a national record of 6.51sec, while Vicaut has clocked 6.53, 0.05sec faster than Chambers who has been hampered by a back problem.

But Chambers is nothing if not a fighter, having won gold (2010), silver (2008) and bronze (2012) at the world indoors, and heads up a British trio including newly-crowned UK champion James Dasaolu and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey.

Other British medal hopes lie with Robbie Grabarz in the high jump, the reigning European outdoor champion poised for a right battle with Russian Aleksey Dmitrik, who has twice beaten him this season.

One notable absentee from Gotheburg, where 578 athletes from 47 countries will compete, will be French triple jumper Teddy Tamgho, who rounded off the last edition in Paris with a new world record of 17.92m en route to gold.

Tamgho, who has had surgery on a troublesome ankle, has elected to skip the indoor season to concentrate on his preparations for the August 10-18 outdoor World Championships in Moscow.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130228/athletics-lavillenie-targets-hat-trick-at-euro-indoors