Former College student breaks British pole vault record
23 July 2012
Former Loughborough College student Steve Lewis warmed up for the London 2012 Olympics in style by breaking the British pole vault record on Saturday.
Steve, 26, cleared 5.82 metres in Poland to beat a high class field and break the 14-year-old national outdoor record of 5.80, set by Nick Buckfield in Chania in 1998.
His leap at the 58th Memorial Janusza Kusocinskiego, in Szcecin, was a 10cm improvement on his previous outdoor personal best.
In the process, he beat three previous world champions, thrashed the London favourite and laid down a marker for the Olympics heats on Wednesday, August 8.
Steve, pictured after being kitted-out at the Team GB Loughborough Preparation Camp, said: “I have been ready to jump high, but finding a competition with good conditions has been tough.
“Saturday was not great with the winds, but it was dry so I took the opportunity to test my London pole selection and it turns out it’s pretty good.
“Jumping 5.82m has been a goal of mine for four years and to achieve it in my last competition before the Olympic Games is amazing.”
Lewis, a two-time Commonwealth medallist, has made the past two world championship finals, finishing seventh in 2009 and ninth in 2011. At the last Olympics, he failed to clear a height in the qualifying round.
The 26-year-old from Stoke booked his second Olympics appearance by winning the national title at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium last month.
Steve, who has been UK number one for six years, made first-time clearances at 5.52m and 5.72m, failed his first attempt at 5.82m, but went clear on his second. None of his three attempts at 5.92 was close.
Former world champions Brad Walker (Germany) and Steve Hooker (Australia), in second and third on countback respectively, could not go any higher than 5.72m.
Reigning world champion Pawel Wojciechowski (Poland), who still has not booked his Olympic place, cleared only 5.42m.
Olympic favourite Renaud Lavillenie (France), who has cleared 5.97m this year, failed at 5.62m.
Steve, who flew from Poland to a two-week training camp in the Algarve, Portugal, is fifth in the world rankings.
He said: “I’m excited to join all my team mates to start preparing for the Games. It’s going to be a big three weeks before then, but I can't wait.”
Britain has never won an Olympic medal in the men’s pole vault event.
Meanwhile, Robbie Grabarz, a Loughborough College student who trains at the university, finished second in the high jump in the Samsung Diamond League meeting in Monaco. Robbie jumped 2.33 metres, the same height as the winner, America’s Jesse Williams.
Robbie, 24, cleared 2.33m at the third attempt and narrowly failed to match his 2.36 personal best.
Williams, the only other man to clear 2.33, won on countback after only taking one attempt at 2.26.
Robbie said: “I knew it was there. I've started to compete again and have some fun with Jesse again.”
And of his rivalry with Williams, the reigning world champion, he added: "We're great friends and genuinely love jumping with each other, we spur each other on and have a great time out there.”
Loughborough-based Martyn Rooney finished sixth in the 400 metres in 45.52 secs, behind winner Jonathan Borlee (Belgium), who ran 44.52.