Athletics: Rising stars Duplantis, Ingebrigtsen imperious at European indoor meet

Sweden's Armand Duplantis celebrates his gold medal on the podium at the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun, on March 7, 2021.
Sweden's Armand Duplantis celebrates his gold medal on the podium at the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun, on March 7, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

TORUN, POLAND (AFP) - Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, two of the rising stars of track and field, showcased all their incredible promise with imperious displays to win the pole vault and 3,000 metres at the European Indoor Athletics championships in Torun on Sunday (March 7).

Coming up to four years since Usain Bolt retired, the athletics world has been long looking for a replacement worthy of the plaudits lauded on the multi-medalled Jamaican sprint legend.

And in US-born Swede Duplantis and Norwegian track prodigy Ingebrigtsen, they might well have found two suitable substitutes in a sport in need of identifiable pin-ups.

Ingebrigtsen, 20, defended his 3,000m title to claim a Euro indoor double after his controversy-ridden victory in the 1,500m on Friday, recording a personal best of 7min 48.20sec.

It was almost a case of the Norwegian heading home with nothing after a dramatic 1,500m that saw him disqualified for stepping infield, only to be reinstated in the early hours of Saturday.

That belated gold showing saw him compete in the heats of the longer event, something he had threatened not to do had the DQ been allowed to stand.

Come the second final, Ingebrigtsen shot out to the front, but was reeled back in at halfway, at one stage falling to seventh in the 12-strong field.

But he showed all his track nous to storm back to clinch gold ahead of Belgium's Isaac Kimeli by a massive 1.21sec.

"This means a lot to me," Ingebrigtsen said. "My goal in these championships was to improve my performance from two years ago and that obviously meant getting two golds.

"For the Tokyo Olympics, my main goal is the 1,500 metres. Olympic gold is something I've wanted almost since I was a toddler."

Duplantis was arguably the more dominant of the pair.

He entered competition at 5.60m, going on to clear 5.80m and 5.85m to win the competition ahead of France's Valentin Lavillenie.

The bar was then set to a new championship record of 6.05m.

He blasted over on his second attempt to erase the former holder, the absent Renaud Lavillenie, from the record books and up the bar went to a centimetre higher than his own world record of 6.18m.

It proved too much, however, Duplantis failing on three attempts at 6.19m.

"I really wanted the championship record, but the gold was the most important thing," said Duplantis, adding he no longer counted how many times he had jumped over the mythical 6-metre barrier - only five other athletes have attained that feat indoors.

"Jumping six metres is still something special," he maintained. "Every time I jump it, it is a really good feeling."

Stellar Mayer

There was a third stellar showing on the third and final day of the championships.

World decathlon record holder Kevin Mayer claimed his second Euro indoor gold after dominating the two-day, seven-discipline heptathlon in which he is also world champion.

The second day of action saw the Frenchman clock 7.78sec in the opening 60m hurdles, before registering a season's best of 5.20m in the pole vault.

Mayer then finished the 1,000m in 2:45.72 for a total of 6,392 points, 87 short of the championship record he set when winning his first gold in Glasgow in 2017.

Mayer's teammate Wilhem Belocian, in 7.42sec, edged out Briton Andrew Pozzi, the defending champion and reigning world indoor gold medallist, by one-hundredth of a second for victory in the 60m hurdles.

There was no such drama in the women's hurdles as Nadine Visser of the Netherlands retained her title, in 7.77sec.

Swiss Ajla del Ponte claimed the women's 60m title in a rapid 7.03sec, and there were wins for Briton Keely Hodgkinson (2:03.88) and Poland's Patryk Dobek (1:46.81) in the women and men's 800m, the latter the host nation's first gold of the championships.

In the field, Portugal's Patricia Mamona beat Spain's Ana Peleteiro by 1cm to triple jump gold with a national record of 14.53m, while Ukraine's Yaroslava Mahuchikh won the high jump with 2.00m.

Bragging rights in the 4x400m relays went to the Netherlands, whose quartets won both men and women's races to help their country top the medal table with four golds, one silver and two bronzes, ahead of Portugal (3-0-0) and Britain (2-4-6).