London, England – France's Renaud Lavillenie claimed gold in the men's pole vault Friday at the London Games, setting an Olympic record to finish ahead of Germans Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe.
Lavillenie was the only man to clear 5.97 meters and broke the record of 5.96m set by Australia's Steven Hooker four years ago in Beijing.
"I can't really believe it," said Lavillenie. "Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and realize that I am an Olympic champion."
The record-setting vault put Lavillenie safely ahead of Otto and Holzdeppe, who each cleared 5.91 meters. Otto took silver as a result of fewer previous misses, while Holzdeppe claimed bronze with a personal best.
"The Germans were very strong and they pushed me to my limits," Lavillenie remarked. "This has to be the best thing in my life."
Hooker and American Brad Walker failed to clear a single bar as both missed their first three attempts at 5.65 meters.
Walker, who won the U.S. Olympic trials this summer, failed to make it out of qualifying at the Beijing Games.