Renaud Lavillenie is hoping to taste Olympic glory again in Paris 2024. GETTY IMAGES

The star pole vaulter doesn't want to miss out on the 2024 Olympics on his home turf, but the 5.82 metre mark required to qualify for Paris is no longer a foregone conclusion for the former champion and world record-holder after his recent rash of injuries.

There are no guarantees in life, and Renaud Lavillenie should know that after literally touching heaven in 2014 when he smashed the 21-year-old pole vault record by clearing the bar at 6.16 metres, one centimetre more than his predecessor, the great Sergey Bubka. The new record lasted six years, until Swedish sensation 'Mondo' Duplantis came along and it to set the mark that currently sits at 6.24.

10 years on from that feat, the French is battling for a yet more modest honour: mere qualification for the next Olympics. He needs to better a bar that may seem pedestrian for one of the best pole vaulters of all time, yet his latest quest for confidence is as human as it gets; and the end result could very well grant him one of the finest pleasures an athlete can enjoy in the world of sport: tasting Olympic glory on home soil.

Lavillenie underwent hamstring surgery on 14 September and has until 30 June to achieve the minimum height for the Paris 2024 Games. The 5.82m mark, once a mere formality, is no longer a given for him. He finished second in Duszniki last Friday with a leap of 5.72 metres, just behind Poland's Piotr Lisek, and then failed three times to reach the bar synonymous with the Olympic minimum.

Despite this latest undeniable fact, Lavillenie had already turned the page after his zero in Clermont-Ferrand in May, where he failed to jump 5.35m three times and has relaunched his qualifying quest since. The fact that he hadn't jumped 5.72 since the end of 2022 was even more motivating and, more importantly, it was the best French performance of the season so far. However, he is now only fifth in the French rankings after Thibaut Collet, Robin Emig, Ethan Cormont and Baptiste Thiery have all cleared 5.75m.

"I'm extremely satisfied on several fronts," Lavillenie told French newspaper L'Equipe. "During last week's competition in Clermont-Ferrand, I saw some good things, but I wasn't very successful. Since then, I've been pretty tired and I've been giving a shit in training. I didn't arrive in Poland with crazy confidence. The aim was to validate two or three things, pass the bars and say to myself that the season was launched. My warm-up went really well and I had the foresight to do one more jump to get on the right pole. That last jump went easily and that gave me confidence."

Indeed, it has been quite a physical and emotional roller-coaster ride for the high flyer since he was upset by underdog but crowd favourite Thiago Braz in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Brazilian took gold while the stadium went nuts and Lavillenie had to conform himself with the silver medal, but he simply hasn't been the same since and now faces a 16-month ban after testing positive for ostarine.

Renaud Lavillenie is hoping to taste Olympic glory again in Paris 2024. GETTY IMAGES
Renaud Lavillenie is hoping to taste Olympic glory again in Paris 2024. GETTY IMAGES

Fast forward to the post Rio Olympics world and it’s been rough sledding for the generational talent, as he finished eighth in Oslo’s Diamond League competition last year and no-heighted in Stockholm, managing a season’s best of just 5.61m.

Back in March, Lavillenie posted a story on Instagram showing his latest jump. "193 days after surgery, you can't imagine how happy I am at this long-awaited moment", he wrote, accompanying an action photo. His world record is long-gone, bettered by Duplantis, the undisputed newest pole-vaulting sensation. However, the Olympic dreams remain quite alive for the now 37-yeard-old from Barbezieux-Saint-Hilaire.

"After my first attempt at 5.42m, I told myself that I'd be happy if I cleared 5.62m," added a delighted Lavillenie after Friday's competition. "I did better than I could have hoped. I didn't expect to go over 5.72m easily. It's a very good sign and now I'm not far of 5.82. I couldn't have imagined that I would be able to attack the Olympic minimum not being far behind. I'm doing things that I haven't been able to do for the last two years, and that's great".

Lavillenie's next appearance is due for 8 June in Pierre-Bénite, another good ramp-up opportunity towards Paris 2024. Another step in his quest for confidence and, hopefully, some sort of reconciliation with stardom.