Athletics: Record-breaking Armand Duplantis soars at World Championships

Sweden's Armand Duplantis in the men's pole vault final during the World Athletics Championships on July 24, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

EUGENE, OREGON (AFP, REUTERS) - Armand Duplantis wrapped up the World Athletics Championships in Eugene in stunning fashion on Sunday (July 24), setting a new world record in the pole vault as the curtain came down on the 10-day global track and field extravaganza.

The gripping finale could not have been any better scripted for the first athletics world championships ever to be held on American soil - apart from the fact maybe that the US-born and raised Duplantis was wearing the yellow and blue of Sweden and not representing the Stars and Stripes.

As the furious hullaboo of the frenzied 4x400m relays won by the US men and women died down, all eyes turned on Duplantis.

And the 22-year-old Swede did not disappoint, sailing with ease over 6.21 metres at the second time of asking.

The packed, raucous crowd at Hayward Field went wild as he sprinted to see his father and coach Greg and plant a kiss on girlfriend Desire Inglander.

"It is great, I cannot complain!" said Duplantis, whose new mark bettered by 1cm his previous best set when winning gold at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March.

"Actually, I did not think about the record that much today," he said.

"Usually, it is always somewhere in the back of my mind but today, I was really focused on the win and I really wanted to win the gold so badly. It was the medal I was missing.

"I love jumping in Eugene and it was amazing here. I cannot figure the next heights right now. I am going to have a bit time off with my family and my friends."

It was the third time this year that Duplantis has set a world record and his fifth record-setting jump overall after breaking Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie's 6.16m world mark with a clearance of 6.17m in February 2020.

American Chris Nilsen jumped 5.94m to take silver on countback ahead of the Philippines' Ernest John Obiena, who won his nation's first World Championships medal.

"This was something I really wanted but I do not know if I was expecting it," Obiena said. "I definitely did not expect that I would jump that high. And I would not think that it would actually take that high to win a medal."

Record for Amusan

Unheralded Nigerian Tobi Amusan had earlier stolen the show with two electric runs on her way to gold in the 100m hurdles.

In the very first event of a loaded evening of track, spectators barely had a chance to sit down with their sodas and popcorn before Amusan rocketed to a new world record of 12.12 seconds in the semi-finals.

When she retook to the track later in the session, the Nigerian stormed to victory in 12.06sec, although a tailwind speed of 2.5 metres per second meant it would not go down in the freshly-inked record books.

"The goal was to come out and to win this gold. I just did it," said Amusan, who finished ahead of Jamaica's Britany Anderson and Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico.

"I believe in my abilities but I was not expecting a world record at these championships."

It was the third time this year that Duplantis has set a world record. PHOTO: AFP

American Athing Mu lived up to her hype by adding the world 800m title to her Olympic crown.

Mu, still only 20 years of age, was forced to dig deep to hold off British rival Keeley Hodgkinson in a thrilling battle down the final straight before taking gold in a world-leading 1min 56.30sec.

"I'm just glad I made it to the line to finish the race, and thankfully I won gold. I just physically wasn't where I would like to be," Mu said.

Another gold medallist from last year's Tokyo Olympics, Malaika Mihambo, won Germany a long-awaited medal as she retained her world long jump title.

But Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei floundered in a 5,000m race won convincingly by Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who bounced back from the disappointment of silver in the 1,500m.

"I didn't want a sprint finish," Ingebrigtsen said. "I wanted to prove that I'm a better runner than the rest of the guys.

"It was a great race. I ran it, I needed it. I felt really good today, but 5km is really tough."

The 22-year-old Swede sailed with ease over 6.21 metres at the second time of asking. PHOTO: AFP

In the absence through injury of Olympic champion Damian Warner of Canada, France's Kevin Mayer seized the moment to claim a second world decathlon gold.

Mayer accrued 8,816 points after 10 disciplines over two days to follow up on previous world gold in 2017 in London.

Consolidating their place atop the medals table with a world championship record of 33 (13 golds, nine silvers, 11 bronzes), the United States claimed emphatic victories in both 4x400m relay finals, much to the delight of the partisan crowd.

Strength in depth saw record-breaking 400m hurdles gold medallist Sydney McLaughlin anchor the women and individual 400m winner Michael Norman take a leg for the men's quartet.

The women's victory meant the now-retired Allyson Felix bagged a 20th world medal as she was a squad member who ran in Saturday's heats.

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