Sunday, August 12, 2018

Mondo Mania

Armand Duplantis Wins
Pole Vault Competition for the Ages

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

In a virtuosic display of pole vaulting tonight in Berlin, 18-year-old Mondo Duplantis (SWE) set his personal best three times and topped the deepest field in the history of the European Championships. 

His 6.05 (19-10¼) winner ties him for #2 all-time outdoors in history.

In a game of “Can You Top This?” the answer was always an emphatic "YES."

“I did feel like I could have made higher,” said the freshly minted gold medalist. “I just hope I wake up tomorrow and it’s still real.”

The statistics of this competition are staggering.

With five jumpers left in the competition, three had cleared 5.90 (19-4¼) and two had passed to 5.95 (19-6¼), the next higher height.

That’s 5 jumping at 5.95 (19-6¼); 17 jumps were taken at 5.95 (19-6¼) or above.

Duplantis and Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) cleared 5.95 (19-6¼), while Russia’s Timur Morgunov then shocked the field with his 6.00m (19-8¼) personal best, the last height he would clear. He won a totally unexpected silver.

Lavillenie missed his first attempt at 6.00 (19-8¼) and passed to 6.05 (19-10¼), where he missed twice and was done for the night, the bronze medal winner.  

Meanwhile, Duplantis etched himself into the track and field history books as well as the memories of the tens of thousands of rapt spectators with his magical 6.05 (19-10¼) winner. 

The compelling ease of it was remarkable as he floated over the bar.

Morgunov’s 6.00 (19-8¼) for second and Lavillenie’s 5.95 (19-6¼) for 3rd equal the highest marks ever for those places.

Poland’s Piotr Lisek was hot early and finished 4th at 5.90. Imagine jumping 19-4¼ and not medaling.

“It was great,” Mondo said of the enthusiastic crowd. “They were really into the competition and it was probably the best pole vault competition I’ve ever been a part of.

“It was a great place to jump and the atmosphere…” he said as his voice trailed off and he shook his head in wonder, still trying to absorb the magnitude of what he had just achieved. “I just hope we can have another championship here because I like to jump high like that.”

Friend and rival – and mentor – indoor world record holder, Renaud Lavillenie, walked on the runway with Duplantis when Duplantis called it a night.  

“He did say on the straightaway,” Duplantis said, ‘Enjoy this moment because not many moments will be like this sweet dream ever. Enjoy this moment because you don’t get these every day.’”

One of those he is now tied with at #2 outdoors is Lavillenie.

Duplantis is becoming comfortable with the fame bestowed on him by his rapid international success.

“I’m not trying to fill his shoes or anything,” he said of Lavillenie. “If people (want to) treat me like Renaud then I guess they can. If people are interested in pole vault and I’m one of the biggest names in track and field, that’s great! That’s great publicity for pole vault.”

A Swedish journalist said, “You look up to Renaud and now there are a lot of little kids looking up to Mondo.”

Mondo replied, “I hope to inspire people. I love pole vaulting so much. It’s such a unique event – such an awesome event and I love winning.”

He hopes to build his event through his success. He hopes it brings the pole vault some publicity, “and if people are watching, they can see how remarkable it is and how different it is from everything else. I want everybody to jump.”

After winning the competition at 6.05 (19-10¼), Duplantis elected not to pursue even high heights. It was simple, he said. 

“I was tired. I was really tired and I had already PRed 3 times.”

He described celebrating with his mother in the stands.

“I don’t think it was much words – I think it was just our faces so close to each other that we could feel each other’s tears down each other’s faces… I don’t think we could come up with words at that time.”

Duplantis revealed a strong sense of the occasion when he said, “It’s going to be one of my greatest track and field moments ever no matter what happens. Olympic gold, world record – this is one of the ones that will have stood out.”

 The Magic Moment
Note how far Duplantis is over the bar.

Photo copyright Jeff Cohen

Thanks to invaluable online statistical resources on Twitter:
K Ken Nakamura @KKenNakamura
John Mulkeen @Statman_John


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. It is not just little kids looking up to Mondo, it is every pole vaulter of any age who still has that same enduring love from having cleared the bar.