Renaud Lavillenie wiped the floor with the competition in the pole vault this season, but that's only the start of it. Here's why the Frenchman is so deserving of his 2014 World Athlete of the Year title.

Six-metre man

The Frenchman is one of just 18 people to have cleared a height of 6 metres in the pole vault. He first joined the exclusive club at the 2009 European Team Championships in Leiria, Portugal, where he posted a world-leading 6.01m, which was also a new French outdoor record. Lavillenie's status as one of the all-time greats is helping to raise the profile of his event.

“When people come to the stadium, they come to see long jump, throws and everything, but the fact is that most of the time it is sprinters or long distance they come to see,” Lavillenie says.

“So it is very good for us, and for my event also. I hope people will be inspired by what I did this year, and come to join my pole vault family.”

Nine carat gold

The 28-year-old has won a major gold medal every season for the last five years. Out of a total of 13 medals won at major championships, nine have been gold, two of which came in 2014 at the European champs and the Continental Cup.

The total height of all his gold medal vaults is 53.29m – the same height as 12 double-decker buses. He already holds the Olympic and world indoor titles, and is targeting a first outdoor world title in Beijing in 2015.

“I love what I do, I love my sport. I enjoy every single day, and I am extremely competitive. And one thing I haven’t won is the world championships, so that still carries me forward. I have an opportunity next year.

“But then if I win one, I want to win two. And if I win two, I want three. I have three European titles and I now want four.

“I want my trophy cabinet at home to be the biggest one of all. To do this would be so difficult if I didn’t love the sport. I am so lucky to have found a sport that I love and this is the core of my motivation.”

Renaud Lavillenie ()

Lavillenie was the captain of the victorious European team at the Conti Cup in Marrakech in September

Record breaker

Sergey Bubka’s pole vault world record had stood virtually unchallenged for 21 years until the beginning of 2014. In Bubka’s home town of Donetsk, at the annual Pole Vault Stars meet where the Ukranian had posted his record 6.15m vault back in 1993, Lavillenie set a new absolute record of 6.16m at the first attempt. That’s three and half times his own height of 1.76m!

“The record had been there a long time, but it wasn’t expected. It was a surprise to me,” he admits.

“I knew I was able to jump that high, but I wasn’t seeking it this year. I was more focused on breaking it in 2015 or 2016, so it came faster than I planned. But this is the beauty of the sport; you never know what’s going to happen.”

Diamond geezer

Lavillenie has been the overall Diamond League winner for five consecutive years since 2010. He has won at 24 individual meets in total, including six out of seven events this season.

He competed in a total of 22 competitions in 2014 and was beaten only once. He managed this feat in spite of injuring his ankle at the tail end of the indoor season when attempting to go even higher after he had set the world record in Donetsk.

“The indoor season was just amazing, of course. But the outdoors was very difficult because there were a lot of expectations and the conditions were very difficult. To be able to win was a big challenge and I’m very proud to win 21 of my 22 competitions.”

Renaud Lavillenie ()

I'll carry this around with me, just in case there's a last minute meet popping up...

Fibreglass hero

The pole vault is held in high regard in his homeland – former national record holder Jean Galfione won Olympic gold in 1996 and Romain Mesnil is a double world champs medal winner – and Lavillenie’s dominance in the event has made him a modern day French sporting icon.

After breaking Bubka’s world record in February, he was given a hero’s welcome when he arrived back in Paris. He received the French Legion of Honour in April this year, picked up the Men's European Athlete of the Year award in October, and in November was named as GQ France’s 2014 Man of the Year, all before being crowned World Athlete of the Year at the World Athletics Gala in November.

“This is new for me, because it is the first time I’ve had invitations to things like that,” says Lavillenie. “But I am very happy about it because it shows the sport is doing well.”