Renaud Lavillenie likens Rio crowd to Berlin 1936 Olympics
By Claire Corkery
Last Updated: 16/08/16 8:41am
France's Renaud Lavillenie has expressed his disappointment after he was jeered by the Rio crowd whilst competing in the final of the Olympic pole vault.
Lavillenie, the defending champion from London 2012, was beaten to gold by home favourite Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva, who achieved an Olympic record of 6.03 metres.
He likened the treatment he received from the partisan crowd to that of the experience of US athlete Jesse Owens had during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
"In 1936, the crowd was against Jesse Owens. We've not see this since. We have to deal with it," he explained.
An increasingly vocal crowd whistled and booed the French athlete as it became apparent Da Silva was in contention for a medal.
Lavillenie lamented the "nastiness" of the crowd and suggested those who joined in the jeering should have stayed at home.
"Better to stay at home in front of your television than come and whistle," said Lavillenie.
"At least then we'd have people in the stadium who want to watch sport.
"It really disturbed me, I felt the nastiness of the public and we do a sport where you never see that.
"I completely understand that the Brazilians are behind Thiago, that's totally normal. But what is not normal is the total lack of respect for the rivals. The least thing, if you don't like someone, is to ignore them, but not to insult them. Because I took that as an insult.
"It's horrible to see that at the Olympic Games."
Preparing vaults on the run-up, Lavillenie appeared on the stadium's big screens, to increased booing.
He greeted the jeers with a wagging finger and then a thumbs-down, to even more whistles.
"In all the competitions I've taken part in, even where the local athlete was going for something, the public has never ever whistled the athletes. It's incredible," he said.
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"I understand that they don't encourage them, but it's not football, it's the Olympic Games which has an enormous sporting influence, it's not every year it happens, and I think the crowd spoilt the experience for a lot of pole vaulters tonight.
"It's the first time I've experienced this type of crowd. It's the first time they've been against not only me but all the other pole vaulters except the Brazilian guy.
"There is no respect, no fair play. It's the Olympics, if there's no respect in the Olympics, where can we get respect? I'm very, very sad and disappointed by the Brazilian public that was in the stadium."