It was an historic day for Vaulting at the ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning. The French vaulters dominated day one and are overnight leaders in the Squad, Female and Male competitions.
As the curtain opened on the Boxen arena the French squad entered. To be drawn first almost always makes for a bigger challenge. Not so for this team who posted an unbeatable 8.068 aboard Londontime lunged by Corrine Bosshard. The German squad tried to match the French, however a few uncharacteristic errors left them trailing behind in second (7.940). A strong performance from Team Switzerland (7.659) earned them 3rd place overnight with the Austrians not far behind in 4th (7.419). The Danish fans were delighted as their squad rounded out the top five (7.329) with the bronze medal firmly in their sights.
The bar was raised in the Female individual competition. Manon Moutinho (FRA) took the lead along with Saitiri and Corrine Bosshard. Despite some minor technical faults she scored 8.445. The new German talent Alina Roß and Julia Sophie Wagner both showed a clean performance to complete the overnight podium (8.365 and 8.310 respectively). Danish powerhouse Sheena Bendixen sits agonizingly close in fourth, 8.203, with two rounds still to go. There was disappointment for Swiss Vaulter Nadja Buttiker who after an almost flawless set of compulsories collapsed in the final exercise and failed to land resulting in a seventh place finish.
Never has the standard been so high in the Male compulsory test. Germany’s Thomas Brüsewitz opened the final session of Vaulting with a massive 8.556 which unbelievably proved only good enough to earn him the 4th place. He was pushed down the rankings first by Frenchman Quentin Jabet (8.666) and again by the reigning World Champion and master of his sport Lambert Leclezio (FRA) who set a new World Record and left the judges struggling to find fault in his performance finally giving him a 9.240. It was a tough act to follow for the young Dutch vaulter Sam dos Santos entering the arena right after Leclezio. Impressively collected he did not let the excitement of the competition phase him and pulled out a bronze medal position performance (8.624). It wasn’t the day for last year’s silver medalist Jannik Heiland (GER). His horse Dark Beluga started the test somewhat unsettled, but ever the professional he still managed to score 8.416 to remain within touching distance of the medals (7th place so far).
Lambert Leclezio aside, the scores are very close in all the competitions piling the pressure onto the competitors ahead of the next round. Tomorrow, the squad’s will rest as we return to see what the individuals have in store in their Technical Tests and the Pas de Deux get their competition underway.