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Posted: July 14, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

Athletics: Friedrich and Lavillenie named European Athletes of the Month for June

European Athletics is pleased to announce that German High Jump star Ariane Friedrich and French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie have been selected as the European Athletes of the Month for June.

Friedrich has successfully managed to extend her outstanding form from the winter season to the outdoors. The European indoor champion enthralled the home crowd at the DKB-ISTAF Meeting, the kick-off event of the ÅF Golden League series, with an excellent jump of 2.06m at Berlin's historic Olympic Stadium, the venue of the IAAF World Championships through 15-23 August.

Already one of Germany’s strongest medal hopes at the World Championships, the 25-year-old Friedrich became only the seventh woman ever to sail over 2.06m, a mark which also eclipsed Heike Henkel’s 2.05m leap -- set when winning the 1991 world title -- as the German national record.

Friedrich went on to bag the women’s title at the SPAR European Team Championships later in June, maintaining her undefeated run this year.

The former European junior champion, who was seventh at the Olympic Games in Beijing, has now claimed the title of world No. 1 high jumper from former European Athlete of the Year Blanka Vlasic, and it promises to be an outstanding contest in Berlin between the two.

Lavillenie, on the other hand, achieved the distinction of joining the super-elite six-metre club at the SPAR European Team Championships in Leiria. With a magnificent leap of 6.01m, the 22-year-old broke the national record of 5.98m set by Jean Galfione in 1999. Before the Frenchman, only one European pole vaulter had gone over the six-metre standard since the start of the 21st century.

Lavillenie missed out on going to Beijing last year but started the winter with a best of 5.70m and never looked back. He went on to win the title at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torino and achieved a personal outdoor best of 5.96m in Auvergne in the middle of June.

The runners-up in the women's poll were Portugal’s Naide Gomes and Russian Pole Vault world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva, while Portgual’s middle-distance runner Rui Silva and triple jumper Nelson Évora were runners-up in the men’s poll.

The European Athlete of the Month initiative was launched in January 2007 and is designed to recognise outstanding performers at all levels of the sport in Europe.

European Athletics names a male and female winner each month and features the athlete on the European Athletics website. Selections are based on votes by the public, the media and a panel of European Athletics experts, with each counting for 33.3 percent of the final vote.

No athlete who has previously served a two-year anti-doping ban can be nominated for or win the European Athlete of the Month.

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