Accolades for Duplantis with new pole vault mark

Sweden's Armand Duplantis clearing the bar at 6.17m for a world pole vault record on Saturday. He is expected to go even higher.
Sweden's Armand Duplantis clearing the bar at 6.17m for a world pole vault record on Saturday. He is expected to go even higher.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • World silver medallist Armand Duplantis who soared to a pole vault world record 6.17m on Saturday can reach even higher heights, said Renaud Lavillenie, whose mark the Swede shattered by a centimetre.

"It is completely conceivable, there is no reason why it cannot be in the long term," 2012 Olympic champion Lavillenie told newspaper L'Equipe when asked if Duplantis might one day clear 6.20m.

The 33-year-old Frenchman, who was vaulting in Rouen, France, when he heard about the record, said he had been expecting it.

"I was prepared," he said. "He did it and it's cool for him."

European champion Duplantis, 20, realised his lifetime dream with his record-topping clearance at a meet in Torun, Poland.

"It's something that I wanted since I was three years old", said the American-born vaulter.

"It's a big year, but it's a good way to start it."

He made it on his second attempt after narrowly missing the record on Tuesday in Germany.

He brushed the bar with his thigh on the way up on the first attempt, sending the bar crashing to the floor. On his second, he again touched the bar but it stayed up and the star who began setting age-group records when he was seven was now the event's king. He is the favourite to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

"My emotions right when I landed in the pit, just yelling and just running around doing whatever," he said. "I don't think I had a brain for a second."

Afterwards he embraced his mother, Helena, a former heptathlete and volleyball player in Sweden, where Duplantis - better known as Mondo - spent summers. His dad and coach Greg was an American pole vaulter.

"Fantastic job!" Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka, who broke the world record 35 times and still has the highest outdoor pole vault at 6.14m, tweeted. "It's great athletics has got such talents. Move higher!"

Duplantis' chief rival, world outdoor champion Sam Kendricks, won the Rouen competition after Lavillenie failed to clear a height.

"It took my breath away!" he said of Duplantis' record. "I was so surprised, I wanted to be excited because it is a monumental moment for our sport, but I had to recover quickly to go."

Kendricks cleared a US indoor record 6.01m on his third attempt.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2020, with the headline 'Accolades for Duplantis with new pole vault mark'. Subscribe