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French Olympic medal hope Lavillenie twists ankle in Tokyo run-in

France's pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie

French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie suffered a potential blow less than two weeks from the Tokyo Olympics when he twisted his ankle warming up for a competition in northern France on Sunday.

The 2012 Olympic champion, one of the main medal hopes of France’s track and field team, landed awkwardly on the mat and immediately pulled out of the Sotteville-Les-Rouen meet.

Medical scans showed a twisted left ankle, with his training group saying his participation in the July 23-August 8 Tokyo Games, with pole vault qualifying scheduled for July 31, was not in doubt.

“Clearly not the ideal scenario for my last competition before the Olympic Games,” tweeted Lavillenie, 34.

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“I leave the clinic with an ‘encouraging’ verdict: no fracture, a big sprain. The countdown begins.”

After several injury-blighted seasons, Lavillenie cleared an impressive 6.06 metres this winter before suffering a calf injury that ruled him out of the European indoor championships in Torun, Poland.

The Frenchman rested up for six weeks, but has come back strongly: he is currently ranked second in the world with 5.92m, behind Swedish world record holder Armand Duplantis (6.10m), one of the big favourites for gold in Tokyo.

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