Lausanne DL — Mondo Beats Sam In Fabulous Vault Duel

Making the most of an intimate downtown setting, Mondo Duplantis raised his outdoor PR to 19-11. (JEAN-PIERRE DURAND)

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND, September 02—Sam Kendricks and Mondo Duplantis have got to keep meeting like this. Eleven months post-Doha in a city-center setting for a Lausanne DL narrowed down in scope to “just” men’s and women’s vault competitions, the world champion and the World Record holder left a stud-studded field behind and took their fierce, friendly rivalry above 6.00 (19-8¼) with spectacular results.

Duplantis, obviously the favorite on heights cleared, eventually prevailed as gloaming became darkness some 2½ hours after the contest began. He skyrocketed over 19-11 (6.07) on first try before an enraptured crowd at close quarters. But not before Kendricks had raised his own highest-ever clearance outside the United States, to 19-9 (6.02), also at the first time of asking.

“Me and Sam, we’ve had this a couple of times before, but never at this high of a level, the 6-meter barrier,” a smiling Duplantis said. “When Sam’s on fire it just made me, you know, kind of get that momentum, and he was jumping so well that it made me want to kind of live up to what he was doing. So, you know, whether we had any light or not, we were just out there having such a great time.”

With the outcome having reversed their World Championships finish order, Kendricks, too, came away with no complaints. “We pole vaulters always push each other,” he said, “and Mondo pushed me to pass this great bar of 6.02 [19-9]. At the end people may have thought that the light wasn´t good but it was actually just fine for me.”

The long, gripping early evening contest played out almost as two competitions in one. Duplantis passed at the first two settings. Kendricks, as is his custom, attacked every bar. Fellow Americans Cole Walsh (5th) and Chris Nilsen (7th), each topping out at 18-5¼ (5.62) were the only vaulters of 9 in the comp not to get seasonal bests.

The group of 4 who survived to tilt above that height had premium credentials, all Olympic gold medalists (Renaud Lavillenie and Thiago Braz), world champions (Kendricks) or the WR holder (Duplantis). Kendricks trailed in 4th, having missed a try at 18-5¼. Lavillenie was arguably on shakier ground, as he had passed that setting. Mondo’s opener had boomed far above the bar.

As Lavillenie missed thrice at 18-9¼ (5.72), Duplantis passed and the rest cleared on first attempts. Kendricks went over 18-11 (5.77), Mondo and Braz passed. At 19-1 (5.82) the American and the Swede began de facto Comp 2 with the pace now accelerated, going over on first attempts as Braz went out. So it went for three more heights, Kendricks arcing over followed by Duplantis—the latter’s margins over the bar spectacular. Kendricks threw his arms skyward after his 19-7 (5.97) flight, Mondo thumped his chest.

The atmosphere at 19-9 (6.02) tingled. Kendricks drove over it clean—with perhaps a foot of clearance… no, really—and brushed the crosspiece lightly with his right hand. Then back down the runway he sprinted, new overseas best notched.

What a follow! Duplantis answered with a clearance margin that had to be close to a foot and a half (46cm).

At an American Record 19-11 (6.07), Kendricks bailed out on his first, and Mondo went way over though he jiggled the bar with a hand brush. Kendricks knocked off the bar with his shins on attempts 2 and 3. He had to be content with the highest non-winning mark in history.

Now darkness had well and truly descended. Mondo aborted early on his go at 20-2 (6.15), which could have been history’s highest outdoor vault, then signaled he was done for the night. “In the end it got too dark to go for 6.15 and I felt it was unsafe to continue any further,” he said. “I felt I was in the zone. But you have to be prudent.”

Since losing to Kendricks at the WC, Duplantis has stretched his win streak in ’20 to 12 meets, including 6 matchups with Kendricks. The American nevertheless retains a 14–10 lifetime record against his rival.

“It’s not many times you lose at 6m,” said Duplantis. “So two times in a meet now I’ve been on the winning end of a 6-meter guy that lost to me. So I mean, one day it’s probably going to be the other way, but it was just such a crazy competition.”


Athletissima; Lausanne, Switzerland, September 02 (street vaults)—

PV: 1. Mondo Duplantis (Swe) 19-11 (6.07) (out WL) (x, =20 W; outdoor: 2, 7 W) (18-5¼, 19-1, 19-3, 19-5, 19-7, 19-9 [=out WL], 19-11, 20-2 out WR [xpp]) (5.62, 5.82, 5.87, 5.92, 5.97, 6.02, 6.07, 6.15 [xpp]);

2. Sam Kendricks (US) 19-9 (6.02) (AL, out WL) (x, =4 A) (17-5½, 18-1¼, 18-5¼ [2], 18-9¼, 18-11, 19-1 [=out lo-alt AL], 19-3 [out lo-alt AL], 19-5 [out AL], 19-7 [out AL], 19-9, 19-11 AR [xxx]) (5.32, 5.52, 5.62 [2], 5.72, 5.77, 5.82, 5.87, 5.92, 5.97, 6.02, 6.07 [xxx]);

3. Thiago Braz (Bra) 18-9¼ (5.72); 4. Renaud Lavillenie (Fra) 18-9¼; 5. Cole Walsh (US) 18-5¼ (5.62); 6. Thibaut Collet (Fra) 18-5¼ PR; 7. Chris Nilsen (US) 18-5¼; 8. Paweł Wojciechowski (Pol) 18-5¼; 9. Claudio Michel Stecchi (Ita) 18-1¼ (5.52).

(best-ever mark-for-place: 2)

Bengtsson Best Of The Women

The height that made all the difference for the Lausanne women was 15-5¾ (4.72). Four had remained after clearing 15-2¾ (4.64), with Britain’s Holly Bradshaw leading; only she and Swiss Angelica Moser had cleared on their first tries. The Swedish pair of Angelica Bengtsson and Michaela Meijer needed two each.

When the bar moved to 15-5¾ (4.72), all four missed their initial efforts. On the second attempt, again, all four missed. Just when it looked like the competition would end with a whimper, Bengtsson—the 6th placer at Doha last fall on a borrowed pole—faced the runway on what many figured would be her final attempt. She cleared, and when Bradshaw and Meier both missed, that sealed the win.

Bengtsson closed her evening with three tries at 15-10½ (4.84), which would have topped Meijer’s Swedish Record by a centimeter. Only her second was a solid effort.

“This has been a beautiful experience,” said the winner. “The energy from the fans has been amazing and the city is a great backdrop.

“Personally it has been hard to find the motivation to train after the postponement of the Olympic Games because we focused on that for 4 years, but I have been able to tell myself summer 2021 will come soon. Until then I will try to put on a show for the fans and I am happy with my performance today.”


PV: 1. Angelica Bengtsson (Swe) 15-5¾ (4.72) (14-2¾, 14-6¾, 14-10¾, 15-2¾ [2], 15-5¾ [3], 15-10½ [xxx]) (4.34, 4.44, 4.54, 4.64 [2], 4.72 [3], 4.84 [xxx]);

2. Holly Bradshaw (GB) 15-2¾ (4.64); 3. Angelica Moser (Swi) 15-2¾ PR; 4. Michaela Meijer (Swe) 15-2¾; 5. Marion Lotout (Fra) 14-10¾ (4.54); 6. tie, Andrina Hodel (Swi) & Robeilys Peinado (Ven) 14-2¾ (4.34); 8. Romana Malácová (CzR) 13-8¼ (4.17);… nh—Tina Šutej (Slo).