French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie cries on medal stand after boos
French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie cried on the medal stand after winning silver in the pole vault in response to being booed by the Brazilian fans.
Lavillenie competed with Brazil’s Thiago Braz da Silva for the gold in the pole vault on Monday. When Lavillenie attempted his jumps, the Brazilian fans booed and whistled. It was clear they were trying to rattle the native athlete’s opponent while pumping up their own guy.
Lavillenie was clearly shaken by the booing and ended up finishing second. He even gave a thumbs down in response to the crowd.
“I was showing to people we are not in a football stadium. Track and field has no place for that,” Lavillenie said. “It wasn’t the first time they whistled me. With the stakes and the fatigue, you don’t need that. It was very disturbing and annoying because you feel the wickedness of the public.”
He then described the situation as unfair.
“I’m a bit disappointed, (it was) not fair play from the stadium. You see it in football. It is the first time I have seen it in track and field. It is the biggest moment of your life. I can’t be happy about that. Now I have to wait four years to get back the gold,” the 29-year-old said. “For the Olympics it is not a good image. I did nothing to the Brazilians. In 1936 the crowd was against Jesse Owens. We’ve not seen this since. We have to deal with it.”
Lavillenie apologized for his comments — especially the comparison about the crowd booing Owens.
Yes, sorry for the bad comparaison I made. It was a hot reaction and I realize it was wrong. Sorry to everyone. https://t.co/rK5mmuMgqH
— Renaud LAVILLENIE ® (@airlavillenie) August 16, 2016
Lavillenie’s apology didn’t matter much to the Brazilians who still booed him during the medal ceremony on Tuesday. He ended up crying on the medal stand, heartbroken over the fans’ treatment of him.
Tears running down Renaud Lavillenie's face after pole vault silver medalist disgustingly booed in stadium #disgrace pic.twitter.com/ARihuRM2aK
— Scott Bowers (@ScottBowers) August 17, 2016
It’s not uncommon for Olympians to cry on the medal stand, but it’s typically out of joy and not sadness as was the case here.