August 16, 2014

ZURICH (AP) Olympic champion and world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie needed only two jumps on Saturday to his third straight pole vault gold medal at the European Championships, highlighting a day of threepeats.

It pushed his winning streak up to 20 competitions and established him as one of the stars of the championships.

The Frenchman cleared 5.80 on his first attempt for gold, celebrating with a backward flip, but scaled 5.90 for good measure afterward. In comparison, silver medalist Pavel Wojciechowski of Poland cleared 5.70.

Now he's setting his sights on the only title he's still missing at the world championships in Beijing next year.

''I want to have a big collection of gold medals,'' the 28-year-old said.

Victory here was tougher than it looked. Lavillenie injured his heel in February in the same indoor competition where he set his world record of 6.16, requiring stiches and a long recovery process.

''I could barely walk after my world record. Winning the gold medal is never anything normal,'' he said.

In the women's triple jump, Ukraine's Olha Saladukha also earned her third European gold with a jump of 14.73 meters, despite worries about her relatives' safety back home.

Russia annexed Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea this spring and Saladukha said her family and daughter Diana are still there.

''I have not seen them for a month,'' Saladukha said. ''The gold medal is important but what I want even more now is world peace.''

She beat two Russians to win the gold, with silver medalist Yekaterina Konova coming up just 4 centimeters short.

In the discus cage, Olympic and world champion Sandra Perkovic added her third straight European crown, dominating the competition throughout and finishing with a world leading 71.08 meters, the longest throw in 22 years. She held a gap of almost six meters over France's Melina Robert-Michon.

Dafne Schippers kept her bid for a different triple alive. She burst on the gold medal scene with victories over the 100 and 200 here and on Saturday she helped the Dutch team qualify for Sunday's 4x100 final. In her seventh race in five days, the heptathlete-turned-sprinter for the occasion almost got her timing wrong to take the baton on the first handover, having to sharply slow down to stay in the zone.

Once she got kicking though, she quickly brought the Dutch back among the leaders and the team qualified second from its heat behind France. Together with Britain, the three are the favorites for the medals.

Another Dutchwoman narrowly missed out on a double. Less than 24 hours after winning gold in the 1,500, Sifan Hassan was challenging again in the 5,000 but she could not match Sweden's Meraf Bahta over the final meters.

In the women's 800, Maryna Arzamasova of Belarus swept past Britain's Lynsey Sharp coming into the finishing straight and held on for gold.

In the hammer throw, Hungarian Olympic champion Krisztian Pars successfully defended his title by setting a world leading mark of 82.69 to take gold.

Early in the morning, Christelle Daunay of France broke away from Italian Valeria Straneo in the final stages of the marathon to win the title.

Jessica Augusto of Portugal, who had been in lone pursuit of the pair for much of the race, took bronze.


Raf Casert can be followed on Twitter at

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