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Lavillenie misses elusive pole vault gold again as Kendricks wins

LONDON -- Neither a return to London's Olympic Stadium nor a surprise 800-meter gold from compatriot Pierre Ambroise Bosse eventually helped French pole vault great Renaud Lavellenie get the elusive world title.

Lavillenie fouled his first jump over 5.89m just seconds after Bosse had crossed the finish line on Tuesday, and after Poland's Piotr Lisek and American Sam Kendricks had cleared.

He managed the height in his second attempt, but it was to no avail, as Kendricks then soared 5.95m to get gold, and Lavillenie had to settle for a fourth worlds bronze on countback against the title holder Lisek on a cool evening.

"I cheered for Bosse, it helped me keep my motivation," said Lavillenie, adding on his own event: "Between the gold and bronze there was only a fraction."

Lavillenie won Olympic gold 2012 in the same stadium and two years later sensationally bettered Sergey Bubka's seemingly invincible world record to 6.16m.

But he had to suffer a shock Olympic defeat against Brazil's Thiago Braz last year, during which he was mercilessly booed by the Rio crowd.

Having missed several months with a back injury, his expectations were not high.

He entered Tuesday's competition at 5.65m - with no-heighting 2013 champion Raphael Holzdeppe already out and the youngest-ever field event finalist at the worlds, 17-year-old Swede Armand Duplantis, missing three times after clearing 5.50m.

But it was the Olympic silver medallist Kendricks who held his nerve after soaring over the still-magical 6m barrier for the first time in June.

Kendricks cleared every height on his first attempt, which would have made him the winner even if he hadn't also managed the 5.92m in his last attempt.

Lavillenie missed twice over 5.95, then saved the last attempt for 6.01m but missed, giving Kendricks the gold.

"I've finally got that world title and I could not be happier," Kendricks said.

"I've enjoyed 10 straight victories this year, it is a blessing to get another today," Kendricks said. "I compete against these guys all the time so we are no strangers to one another. It was another fantastic competition today and I had to jump high to take the gold."

But Lavillenie said that given the injury setbacks, getting on the podium was a success after all.

"My main goal this year was to get on the podium, from almost nothing," Lavillenie said. "The last few months were difficult for me. I knew I might not get to the highest level but I wanted to make it to the podium."

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