Mondo Phenomeno

“I have no words for how I feel,” said Mondo Duplantis after his triple-record day in Berlin. (MARK SHEARMAN)

Various online urban dictionaries refer to “mondo” as “very large or great in amount or number” and vaulter Mondo Duplantis certainly reinforced that definition in both centimeters and inches with his thrilling performance when he cleared 19-10¼ (6.05) to take the Euro title in Berlin.

The Louisiana native, who went to Lafayette High and who will start his collegiate studies at LSU in mid-August, was competing for Sweden as he holds dual nationality and racked up a stunning set of stats:

•Firstly, it was a World Junior (U20) Record, improving his own mark of 19-5½ (5.93) set in Baton Rouge at the state high school champs back in May. In fact, he improved his standard in three stages, going over 19-6¼ (5.95), 19-8¼ (6.00) and finally 19-10¼ (6.05); all at the first time of asking.

•Secondly, it was a meet record, improving on the venerable mark of 19-8¼ (6.00) set by Russian star Rodion Gataullin 24 years ago to the day in ’94.

•Thirdly, it elevated the precocious teenager to =No. 4 on the all-time list, and only Sergey Bubka has actually gone higher outdoors.

With father Greg—a former HS Recordholder and a 19-foot vaulter himself—and Swedish mother Helena watching in the stands, Mondo put daylight between himself and the bar with his final clearance but, emotionally spent after clinching the gold medal, he understandably called it a day and declined the opportunity to try for a higher bar.

After clearing his historic winning height he initially stood up emotionless but then collapsed to the pit, dry-heaving and gasping for air on a warm and claustrophobic night in the German capital when the temperatures were hovering in the low 80s for much of the competition.

Despite France’s Renaud Lavillenie and Russia’s Timur Morgunov still vaulting—the latter only 21 himself and clearing 19-8¼ himself on his first attempt to make the competition only the fifth in history in which two men have gone over the halcyon metric height of 6.00, proceedings came to a halt as all and sundry congratulated Duplantis, the first being WR holder Lavillenie. The fact that the Frenchman was the first to give Duplantis a generous hug symbolized for many that the baton was being passed between the vaulting generations and that Lavillenie might soon become yesterday’s news.

“I have no words for how I feel,” said Duplantis after the event. “This is a dream that has come true. Now I’m so tired. I want to celebrate but I want to sleep at the same time. This is really crazy. I have watched so many YouTube videos of vaulters who have won great championships over the years and I have dreamed that I’d get such a moment sometime.”

Duplantis, who has also consistently demonstrated nerves of carbon fiber, continued, “I’m faster than I’ve ever been and stronger as well, and the crowd was so motivating. I thought I could take the gold tonight, but would I do it at 6.05? I didn’t think so. However, one of my favorite jumps during the final was at 5.90. It felt so easy, then I knew I could respond at any height, no matter how high the others went. I didn’t think so much about the bar when it was at 6.05; it was just that I had to take that height to get the gold medal because Morgunov and Lavillenie both were still fighting at 6.05.

“I would have said [6.05] was in a different universe even though I’ve been doing this sport my whole life. I was sitting on the back of the runway and I sort of said to myself ‘Really, I have to make this to win? You must be kidding me.’ If they had made 6.05 I think I would have just quit vaulting. Having to make 6.10 to win, that wouldn’t be fair. To be honest I don’t even remember the jump at 6m! Everything is now completely blank. I’ll have to go back and watch it on YouTube, but 6.05 felt kinda easy. I didn’t touch it. It felt so easy that at first I thought I’d even gone under the bar! And then I looked down when I’m up there and there is the bar, down there!

“After 6.05, I was so tired—remember I had improved my PR three times—so I never thought about continuing and having a go at the World Record.”

Despite competing in the bright yellow jersey of his mother’s native Sweden, Duplantis may also lay claim to the American Record, succeeding Brad Walker, whose 19-9¾ (6.04) has stood as the mark for U.S. vaulters to aim for since he went over that height at the ’08 Pre.

Since Duplantis has dual nationality, the possibility exists that he could simultaneously be a national record holder in two countries with the same mark from the same meet, just as he already is with the Junior standards from both nations, current U.S. regulations not mandating that one be eligible to represent the national internationally in order to claim a record, the key word being “citizen.” □