BIRMINGHAM, March 4, 2018 – At a backyard in Lafayette, Louisiana there’s a pole vaulting area separating a standard looking brick house from its neighbours. On that area, next to the bushes, a young starlet started his journey towards the top. The son to an American father and a Swedish mother – Armand Duplantis has in recent years starting to become something close to a phenomenon within the world of athletics.
Hailed by the New York Times as “the Tiger Woods of pole vaulting”, 18 year-old Duplantis who represents Sweden has impressed a lot by breaking world-record after world-record at a junior level. The latest came only one week ago at 5.88m during a competition in France.
At the 2018 World Indoor Championships there were high expectations on the teenager who before the championship spoke about his possibilities of winning a medal as “difficult, but possible”. After succeeding at 5.70m and failing at his first attempt at 5.80m, and the second one at 5.85m, Duplantis tried a final attempt at 5.90m.
“I wouldn’t have won a medal if I succeeded at 5.85m at the second attempt. What’s a fourth place”, he rhetorically asked afterwards.
Duplantis later on came close, but without succeeding and exited the competition at 5.70m as number seven in the world. A result that he wasn’t very pleased with.
“I don’t really know what to say, I think that I was really close to the 5.85m and it’s tough when you have a really close miss like that one. I guess that’s pole vaulting. I try not to think about it”, Duplantis commented.
The seventh place was two places better than his result from the world championships in London last summer where he exited the competition at 5.50m.
“In London I didn’t feel physically that good. Today I felt physically that I could jump really high and make some numbers around 5.90m ish. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out for you”, he said.
Duplantis, or Mondo, as most people call him has pole vaulting in his blood. His father and current coach Greg was a pole vaulter himself competing for America with a personal best of 5.80. His mother, Helena, was also an athlete competing for Sweden in heptathlon and volleyball. Last summer the then 17-year-old left London and his first World Championship unhappy about his result. This year he’s leaving the UK with the same feelings. But as Duplantis at the age of 18 reached another final he’s future is looking extremely interesting.
After Duplantis had exited the competition, the French super star Renaud Lavillenie secured his third gold-medal at a World Indoor Championship after succeeding at 5.90m.
"I'm very, very happy. The competition was a real battle. The competition was very long and very intense as you can see with seven athletes trying to jump 5.90m. I was a little disappointed to miss my first jump at 5.90m, as I know I am able to get it. But to be able to secure one more gold medal in the world championships is a crazy feeling”, he said.
Follow Karl Sundstrom on Twitter: @sundstrom_karl