Lavillenie has high hopes

Olympic pole vault champion Renaud Lavillenie has targeted maintaining his unbeaten start to 2013 by winning gold at the European Indoors.

The men's competition, qualifying for which gets under way in Gothenburg on Friday, is set to be one of the standout events of the three-day competition, with Frenchman Lavillenie going up against the two Germans he beat to gold at London 2012.

Veteran Olympic silver medallist Bjorn Otto and bronze medal winner Raphael Holzdeppe will look to end their rival's winning run, but 26-year-old goes into the event in ominous form.

He has won eight events out of eight so far this indoor season, leads the world rankings with 5.94 metres and indeed holds five of the leading seven vaults in the world this year.

Lavillenie, the two-time defending champion, said: "My expectation for this championships is to win the title again and finish unbeaten for the indoor season and to beat my personal best (6.03m), which I set two years ago at the same competition.

"It will be a challenge. In Europe we get the best level in the world. We just have to fight every time. I am very peaceful in my head, and I'm focused."

The fourth and fifth-placed athletes from the Olympics, Greece's Konstadinos Filippidis and Briton Steve Lewis, are also in the field and medal contenders.

The men's high jump is also set to develop into an intriguing contest, even in the absence of Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov.

His compatriot Aleksey Dmitrik leads the European rankings with 2.36m, but Great Britain's Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz, the reigning European outdoor champion whose best this season is 2.31m, also has gold on his mind.

"You come here to win a champs, nothing else," he said. "You come and go for gold and do whatever performance is necessary to win."

Elsewhere, Ethiopian-born middle-distance runner Abeba Aregawi is hosts Sweden's leading contender for a title in the women's 1500m.

The 22-year-old recorded the second fastest indoor time ever on her only outing of the winter so far, clocking three minutes 58.40 seconds in Stockholm and the home fans will be expecting another impressive showing.

Germany's Sebastian Bayer is chasing a third straight European indoor long jump title, but is struggling for form, while Poland's Adam Ksczot and Britain's Jenny Meadows are back to defend their titles in the men's and women's 800m.