Elite pole vaulters ready to shine in Shanghai

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With one day to go before the kick-off of the IAAF Diamond League Shanghai meeting, world top pole vaulters are ready to test their early season forms here on Saturday night.

Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, who holds the world record of 6.16m, said he was excited to compete after recovering from injuries.

"My training was pretty good during the winter preparation. Everything is going well. I am only trying to stay focus on my jumps and to enjoy the competition," said Lavillenie during Friday's pre-competition news conference.

"My first goal here is to clear 5.70m. And after that why not fight for the victory? I know I can jump 5.70m and then I will go higher. The good thing is that I have no pain, no injury," he added.

Lavillenie said he was looking forward to enjoying the season and hopefully saving his best jumps for the upcoming 2017 IAAF World Championships in London.

It will be the first time for Brazil' s Thiago Braz, who registered an upsetting victory at last year's Olympic Games with a personal best of 6.03m, to compete in Shanghai. The 23-year-old chose to keep a low profile in front of a quality field worthy of any global final.

"I expect good results in Shanghai. I want to jump higher, maybe beat the world record someday. But for tomorrow, I just want to do a good jump," said Braz.

The Brazilian's modesty was echoed by Xue Changrui, China's national record holder with a career best of 5.80m.

"It is really a strong field tomorrow. I have competed with most of them at the Olympics, so there will be no special pressure. I am looking forward to the competition. Last year's Olympic Games was kind of a setback for me. I am trying to rebuild my confidence through competitions," said Xue, who finished sixth in Rio at 5.65m.

The star-studded pole vaulting field also includes 2015 world champion Shawn Barber from Canada, 2013 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe of Germany and Olympic bronze medallist Sam Kendricks of the US, who claimed the title in Shanghai at 5.88m last year.

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