ON AN EVENING of superlatives across several events, Mondo Duplantis wrote his name for the fifth time into the annals of athletics history where WRs are recorded.
With the bar set at 20-4½ (6.21), the 22-year-old vaulter’s unsuccessful first attempt was almost a rehearsal, perhaps even an unconscious ploy to have the spotlight solely on him.
Then, as the very last competitor in action after 10 days of competition, amidst the jubilant celebrations of the victorious U.S. women’s 4×4 and with the Hayward Field faithful still having their eyes glued on the PV runway, his second attempt was a stunning, soaring clearance before deliriously dashing off the landing mat and celebrating with a forward flip down the backstraight.
TV graphics showed that there was some 6 inches (c15cm) of daylight between Duplantis’ torso and the bar, giving every indication that this WR will probably not be his last.
“I didn’t think about the record that much today,” he commented shortly afterwards. “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.
“You get quite a bit of pressure on you when you’re the only person competing on the entire track. But it’s an honour when people stay in their seats and it’s literally only me on the track,” added the super-Swede who claims his hometown as Lafayette, Louisiana.
“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 of time off with my family and my friends.”
In the midst of all the subsequent furor about the WR, earlier there had been actually a gold medal still to be won.
Seven men went clear at 19-3 (5.87) including France’s venerable Renaud Lavillenie who cleared a season’s best.
The next bar at 19-5¾ (5.94) proved to be the critical one in determining the medalists.
Duplantis and Nilsen both went over with their first attempts to remain level in pole position. EJ Obiena of the Philippines then cleared on his second attempt for an Asian Record while the remaining four — Brazil’s ’16 OG champ Thiago Braz, Lavillenie and the German pair of Oleg Zernikel and Bo Kanda Lita Baehre — could go no higher.
However, after watching, Braz — taking a last-fling-of-the-dice third attempt at this height — Nilsen and Obiena bring the bar down with their opening efforts at 19-8¼ (6.00) Duplantis then sailed straight over with what was to prove the gold medal-winning vault.
Into the bargain, this clearance was his No. 46 over 6m, overtaking PV great Sergey Bubka on that metric although Duplantis was to go on and widen the gap shortly afterwards.
Nilsen and Obiena were then to bring the bar down on their second and third attempts at 19-8¼ (6.00) and so claimed silver and bronze respectively.
Duplantis then moved the bar up to a meet record 19-10½ (6.06) and this accolade was quickly added to his world title.
The stage was then set for Mondo to go for the WR.
This will also be the first time in almost three decades that an outdoor mark will be the absolute best in this event — a state of affairs that has existed since Bubka jumped 20-1¾ (6.14) indoors in Liévin, France, on February 13, 1993, to supplant his 20-1¼ (6.13) in Tokyo the previous summer.
The Duplantis mark succeeds his own 20-2½ (6.16) from June as the highest outdoor mark ever.
While Nilsen was to make the podium, fellow U.S. representatives Luke Winder and Andrew Irwin failed to make the final. (Two-time reigning champ Sam Kendricks, recovering from May knee surgery, was unable to avail himself of his Wild Card entry.)
Winder cleared 18-6½ (5.65) but couldn’t go any higher while Irwin crashed out with three failures at his opening height of 17-4½ (5.30).
Among the other names departing in the qualifiers were France’s Thibaut Collet, who cleared 19-1 in June, and Poland’s Piotr Lisek who had medaled at the last 3 WCs.
MEN’S POLE VAULT RESULTS
FINAL (July 24)
(temperature 73–88F/23–31C; humidity 63–41%)
1. Mondo Duplantis (Swe) 20-4½ (6.21) WR (old WR 20-4/6.20i Duplantis ’22) (MR—also MR 19-10½/6.06);
2. Chris Nilsen (US) 19-5¾ (5.94);
3. EJ Obiena (Phi) 19-5¾ (5.94) NR;
4. Thiago Braz (Bra) 19-3 (5.87);
=5. Renaud Lavillenie (Fra) 19-3 (5.87);
=5. Oleg Zernikel (Ger) 19-3 (5.87);
7. Bo Kanda Lita Baehre (Ger) 19-3 (5.87);
8. Ersu Şaşma (Tur) 19-¼ (5.80) =NR;
9. Pål Haugen Lillefosse (Nor) 19-¼ (5.80);
10. Sondre Guttormsen (Nor) 18-8¼ (5.70);
11. Ben Broeders (Bel) 18-8¼ (5.70);
… nh—Menno Vloon (Neth).
(best-ever mark-for-place: 1, 9)
(July 22; auto-qualifier 19-¼/5.80)
Qualifiers: all qualifiers cleared 18-10¼/5.75.
Non-Qualifiers: [18-6½/5.65]—Hussain Asim Al-Hizam (Sau), Thibaut Collet (Fra), Simen Guttormsen (Nor), Rutger Koppelaar (Neth), Luke Winder (US), Seito Yamamoto (Jpn);
[18-½/5.50]—Harry Coppell (GB), Tommi Holttinen (Fin), Bokai Huang (Chn), Emmanouíl Karalís (Gre), Piotr Lisek (Pol), Kurtis Marschall (Aus), Mikko Paavola (Fin), Robert Renner (Slo), Robert Sobera (Pol);
[17-4½/5.30]—Germán Chiaraviglio (Arg);
[nh]—Torben Blech (Ger), Augusto Dutra (Bra), Andrew Irwin (US),Valentin Lavillenie (Fra).