Hooker advances in pole vault but Lavillenie fails

DOHA Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:54pm IST

DOHA (Reuters) - Australian Olympic and world champion Steve Hooker turned his first indoor pole vault of the year into an easy qualifier at the IAAF world championships on Friday.

However, the year's top indoor vaulter, France's Renaud Lavillenie, could not advance past the opening session of the three-day championships.

The world outdoor bronze medallist failed three times at the qualifying height of 5.60 metres.

Hooker joined eight others in Saturday's final by clearing 5.60 on his only attempt.

"I jumped just before the equipment broke, so that made it much easier," the Australian said after the competition was interrupted because of a problem with one of the standards on which the bar rests.

"Anyone that had to jump after that, it made it very challenging. I really feel for those guys."

Lavillenie and U.S. 2004 Olympic champion Tim Mack were among the victims, both ending their day at 5.45 metres.

"I spent 30 minutes without jumping at 5.60," Lavillenie said of his failure. "It is a real pity because these championships were a rare opportunity where I could get a real competition from Steve Hooker and that's the day when I messed it up."

Hooker overcame the pain from a torn thigh muscle to win last year's Berlin outdoor world championships in a stern test of mind over body.

"I would love to win this competition," a much more relaxed Hooker said this time. "That is my only goal coming here."

Heavily favoured defending women's high jump champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia smoothly advanced to Saturday's final, clearing all three heights she attempted.

Vlasic, who has world record hopes, was one of nine moving forward with clearances of 1.92 metres.

"It's always a stressful competition, the qualification, because there are a lot of people (jumping)," said Vlasic, who has jumped 2.06 metres this season. "But I am happy with everything today."

American defender Christian Cantwell joined Germany's Ralf Bartels in qualifying for Saturday's men's shot put final.

Bartels, the 2006 European champion, had a heave of 20.91 metres on his second attempt while Cantwell threw only once, reaching 20.72 to meet the automatic qualifying standard.

(Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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