Mexico’s one man mission to Moscow aims for the heights

Wednesday 8 March 2006

Walnut, California, USA - Giovanni Lanaro’s Pole Vault career as well as his Olympic debut in 2004 had an inauspicious start but the Mexican pole vaulter will be ready to make amends in the 11th IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Russia (10-12 March).

Lanaro, 24, enters the competition coming off a Mexican national indoor record of 5.71m set in Flagstaff, Ariz. on 18 February. He will be his country's lone representative in Moscow.

Athens disappointment

Lanaro will be looking to erase the memories of the 2004 Olympics when he strained his hamstring as he sprinted down the runway on his first attempt and was forced to withdraw from the competition.

At the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, he finished a non-qualifying eighth on misses in his group after having to switch to an adjacent runway because of a vault standard equipment malfunction.

“At the Olympics and World Championships, I was going to learn more than anything and vault against elite competition,” Lanaro said. “It was intimidating to know they were so much better than me. I’ve seen such big improvement technically and strength wise that I am confident that I can jump really well (in Moscow).’’

New to the sport

The U.S. born Lanaro, who holds dual citizenship with Mexico, wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he first took up vaulting seriously as a freshman at Mt. San Antonio Community College in Southern California in 2000.

In two years at Mt. SAC, Lanaro raised his PB from 3.51m to 5.40m.Lanaro shunned recruiting offers from USC, UCLA, South Carolina and Fresno State to attend little known Cal State Fullerton where he was a three-time NCAA All-American and raised his career best to 5.64m.

Lanaro pole vaulted as a freshman in high school but suffered a back injury as well as a fractured ankle skateboarding that prevented him from vaulting the next three years. He focused on swimming before deciding to give the vault one more try at Mt. SAC.

“I really never jumped before I got to Mt. SAC,” Lanaro said. “`Who knows what I could have done in high school?’ I’ve grown, matured and got stronger and faster.”

Inspired by Bubka

Lanaro, who has had a poster of Sergey Bubka on his bedroom door since his high school days, also credits his coaches Brian Yokoyama, his coach at Mt. SAC and his current coach, and Cal State Fullerton coach Ron Kamaka for his development.

Lanaro has also learned from U.S. vaulters Tim Mack, Jeff Hartwig, Russ Buller, Brad Walker and Daichi Sawano of Japan during their visits to Mt. SAC for competition, clinics and training.

“These guys have a totally different aspect mentally,” Lanaro said. “Hanging out with them and calling them on the phone, they have a different aspect on the Pole Vault. It’s one thing to jump high but another to go out there and jump (5.49m) every single time.”

Yokoyama, who serves as a consultant for Mack and Sawano, believes that his latest prodigy Lanaro is approaching that level. Yokoyama said that Lanaro has been consistently vaulting close to 5.79m in workouts leading up to Moscow and wouldn’t be surprised if Lanaro takes down the Mexican outdoor record of 5.72m set by Paul Benavides in 1994 before the 2006 campaign is through.

“Gio might not medal in (Moscow) but he will be a factor in the upcoming years,” Yokoyama said.

Kirby Lee for the IAAF

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