A marvelous European Track & Field Championships concluded last Sunday in Berlin (GER), with the highlight being the men’s pole vault in which two men cleared the 6 m barrier (19-8 1/4) and the winner set two national records … for two different countries?
It’s just another chapter is the amazing reality show that is Armand “Mondo” Duplantis of Lafayette, Louisiana … and Sweden.
The son of an American pole-vaulting father and a Swedish heptathlete mother – more on them later – Duplantis has competed for Sweden in international competition since the 2015 World Youth Championships. He won the European Junior Championships in 2017, the World Junior Championships in 2018 and has owned the World Junior Record since 2017.
He established himself as a star of the present with a sensational win in the Bauhaus Galan Diamond League meet on Stockholm and entered the European Champs in Berlin as the favorite. But even he couldn’t have foreseen the drama ahead.
In front of a crowd of 42,350, the field included 2012 Olympic champ and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) and 2011 World Champion Pawel Wojciechowski (POL). But Wojciechowski went out at 5.95 m (19-6 1/4), then Poland’s Piotr Lisek couldn’t clear 6.00 m (19-8 1/4), and Lavillenie missed once. But Duplantis and Russian Timur Morgunov – neither had ever cleared 6.00 m before – became the 23rd and 24th men to do so, clearing on their first tries!
Lavillenie passed his last two tries and the bar went to 6.05 m (19-10 1/4), rarefied territory that only Lavillenie, Sergey Bubka (UKR) and Steve Hooker (AUS) have ever bettered and only two others had equaled.
Duplantis had already claimed World Junior Records at 5.95 m (19-6 1/14) and 6.00 (19-8 1/4) and cleared 6.05 m on his first try! Morgunov jumped after him and missed all three of his tries to settle for second, becoming only the fourth man in history to jump 6.00 m and lose, and the first in 19 years! Lavillenie missed his two remaining attempts and settled for the bronze medal.
Duplantis was too exhausted to continue, but he was ecstatic. “I do not think that there are any words in this world to describe what I feel. I am on the top of the world, I am so happy.
“It could not be any better. Renaud sent me a message this morning saying, ‘No matter what results it is going to be unless we meet both on the podium.’ And I really wanted to meet him on the podium tonight.
“In the competition, after I jumped 6 meters, I just knew I need to go higher to solve it. It was crazy and pretty tough for me as I just improved my PB. I had to switch the poles at the higher heights for the ones I have never used before in the competition.
“This medal will definitely be dedicated to my coach, my mother who spent time with me every day, every training session and she saw all my workouts.”
And she is former Swedish heptathlete Helena Hedlund, who competed in the 1983 European Junior Championships in 1983, finishing 16th with a lifetime best of 5,097. She married Greg Duplantis, a 5.80 m (19-0 1/4) vaulter from 1993 who had a best of third in the U.S. Nationals.
They settled in Lafayette, Louisiana, just 56 miles from the Louisiana State campus in Baton Rouge, where Greg had competed as a collegian (and where Mondo is headed). The older brothers Andreas and Antoine were also vaulters, with Andreas competing for Sweden in the 2009 World Youth Champs and the 2012 World Junior Championships.
Mondo apparently started vaulting at four years old (!) and set a world age-group record at age seven and has continued setting them ever since. He now stands equal-fourth on the all-time list:
- 6.16i 20-2½i Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) 15 Feb ‘14
- 6.15i 20-2i Sergey Bubka (UKR) 21 Feb ‘93
- 6.06i 19-10½i Steve Hooker (AUS) 07 Feb ‘09
- 6.05 19-10¼ Maksim Tarasov (RUS) 16 Jun ‘99
- 6.05 19-10¼ Mondo Duplantis (SWE) 12 Aug ‘18
- 6.05 19-10¼ Dmitriy Markov (AUS) 09 Aug ‘01
In terms of outdoor jumps, only Bubka (6.14 m/20-1 3/4 ‘94) has ever gone higher than 6.05 m, moving Duplantis to no. 2 on the all-time outdoor list.
Which brings us to the American Record. Even though Duplantis competes for Sweden, he should be confirmed as the American record holder, which – according to USATF Rule 261 – is for “the best performance made by an American citizen or relay team composed entirely of U.S. citizens in an athletics event held within the United States or abroad.”
Pretty good for a teenager, born and bred in Lafayette, Louisiana. But he may be the catalyst for a rule change to keep the AR among American citizens, provided they are not competing for another nation. Another way in which Mondo Duplantis is changing the pole vault and the sport … at age 18!