Renaud Lavillenie entered tonight’s pole vault final as the reigning Olympic champion and world record holder. He finished it as a silver medalist, thanks to Brazilian Thiago da Silva setting a new Olympic record of 6.03m in a wild night that featured a lengthy rain delay and malfunctioning equipment.
Lavillenie seemed a lock to repeat after clearing 5.98m—itself a new Olympic record. (He set the old one in London.) Da Silva, meanwhile, passed on that height and decided to match Lavillenie’s 6.03 attempts, which he cleared on his second attempt. The entire finals took more than three hours to complete; Lavillenie failed with each attempt at 6.03—and, then, 6.08—leaving da Silva as the new Olympic champion and record-holder. Da Silva had never, himself, cleared higher than 5.93 in competition—making his achievement that much more stunning. American Sam Kendricks took bronze.
BBC and CBC aired the event live. NBC aired three minutes of it, tape-delayed.