ONCE AGAIN, it was The Mondo Duplantis Show as the superstar Swedish vaulter from Louisiana provided a superb sequel to his WR-setting display in Eugene last year.
Duplantis got his second WC gold in dominant fashion — despite Budapest’s witnessing the best ever major champs vault for top-level depth — finishing two bars and 10cm better than anyone else.
He was flawless over 18-2½ (5.55), 19-2¼ (5.85), 19-6¼ (5.95), 19-8¼ (6.00), 19-10¼ (6.05) and 20-¼ (6.10) before finally showing he was mortal with 3 failures at a WR height of 20-5¼ (6.23).
Nevertheless — with the rest of the penultimate night’s program coming to a halt as he took his WR attempts — Mondo was close enough on his second and third tries to suggest that entering the recordbooks for a seventh time may not be too far away.
“I’m really happy about all these consecutive golds,” He said. “I don’t know where this one ranks but I’m happy to keep winning. This was maybe the craziest atmosphere I’ve ever competed in, so it meant a lot to be able to turn on a pole vault show for them.
“I felt a bit of pressure as defending champion but I’m glad to come through it. It feels pretty good to be on top again. I try not to set limits and barriers on myself and once I started to realize a World Record was possible I tried not to see it as a record, just as another height I can achieve.
“But today never really felt like a World Record competition. It was more a pure competition and that’s how it can be. It was great fun but I’d spent a lot of energy by the time it got up to 6.23,” he added.
Behind Duplantis, there was a superb duel for the other medals, as 11 were still in the competition at 19-2¼ (5.85) and 5 made it over: Australia’s Kurtis Marschall, Mondo and France’s Thibaut Collet in that order went over at the first time of asking. The Philippines’ Oregon22 bronze medalist EJ Obiena cleared on second try and U.S. champ Chris Nilsen on his third.
Mondo passed 19-4¼ (5.90) but Obiena, Nilsen and Collet made it on their first attempts, the Frenchman PRing, while Marschall passed upwards after one failure.
However, the gamble paid off for the Australian. After watching Obiena go over 19-6¼ (5.95), Marschall followed suit moments later but so too did Nilsen and then Mondo, as Collet failed and opted to wait for the bar to go higher.
It was only at 19-8¼ (6.00) that the medals were decided. Mondo went flying clear, TV graphics showing he had more than 6 inches to spare, while Obiena equaled his Asian Record with his second attempt and with a modicum of daylight to spare.
Marschall, Nilsen and Collet all departed from the competition leaving the Australian and American — the latter a silver medalist at the last OG and WC — to share the bronze.
Obiena then valiantly tried to equal Mondo after the latter had continued to vault cleanly. After one failure at 19-10¼ (6.05), the Filipino took his remaining two efforts at 20-¼ (6.10) but soon ceded the stage to the man who had now become a 2-time world champion.
Said Nilsen, “This is my fourth medal from international championships in a row. More than just winning it, I am happy to have been healthy for the last four years. A lot of athletes have been struggling with injuries and I had a couple of small injuries too. Even at this competition I had some cramps.”
He also observed poignantly, “This is just one of those amazing stadiums where people really love track & field. I hate to say it because I am American, but track & field is a lot more loved in Europe than in the USA. It was cool to compete at home last year, but nobody cheers as well as Europeans.”
As a side note, Obiena’s silver is the greatest ever track & field achievement by a Filipino athlete, after his country scored two bronzes back in the 1932 and ’36 Olympics and then his own ’22 WC bronze.
Zach McWhorter accompanied Nilsen in the final, finishing 8th with 18-10¼ (5.75) after being one of 6 who couldn’t go any higher. Texas Tech’s Zach Bradford — with Budapest being his eighteenth comp of a long year that started in January — cleared 18-8¼ (5.70) in the Q-round but tiredly brought the bar down three times at 18-10¼ (5.75), which 13 men cleared en route to the final.
MEN’S POLE VAULT RESULTS
FINAL (August 25)
1. Mondo Duplantis (Swe) 20-0 (6.10);
2. EJ Obiena (Phi) 19-8¼ (6.00) =NR;
=3. Kurtis Marschall (Aus) 19-6¼ (5.95);
=3. Chris Nilsen (US) 19-6¼ (5.95);
5. Thibaut Collet (Fra) 19-4¼ (5.90) PR;
6. Bokai Huang (Chn) 18-10¼ (5.75) =PR;
7. Ben Broeders (Bel) 18-10¼ (5.75);
8. Zach McWhorter (US) 18-10¼ (5.75);
=9. Piotr Lisek (Pol) 18-10¼ (5.75);
=9. Claudio Michel Stecchi (Ita) 18-10¼ (5.75);
=9. Jie Yao (Chn) 18-10¼ (5.75);
=12. Ersu Şaşma (Tur) 18-2½ (5.55);
=12. Robert Sobera (Pol) 18-2½ (5.55).
(best-ever mark-for-place: =3, 5)
QUALIFYING (August 23)
Qualifiers: all qualifiers cleared 18-10¼/5.75 (=highest Q ever);
Non-Qualifiers: [18-8¼/5.70—=highest non-Q ever]—Zach Bradford (US), Kyle Rademeyer (SA), Baptiste Thiery (Fra), Menno Vloon (Neth), Oleg Zernikel (Ger), Tao Zhong (Chn);
[18-2½/5.55]—Ethan Cormont (Fra), Sondre Guttormsen (Nor);
[17-6½/5.35]—Hussain Asim Al-Hizam (Sau), Juho Alasaari (Fin), Pedro Buaró (Por), Germán Chiaraviglio (Arg), Gillian Ladwig (Ger), Vladyslav Malykhin (Ukr), Eduardo Nápoles (Cub), Paweł Wojciechowski (Pol);
… nh—Dominik Alberto (Swi) Tomoya Karasawa (Jpn), Emmanouíl Karalís (Gre), Urho Kujanpää (Fin), Pål Haugen Lillefosse (Nor).
(best-ever Q mark-for-place: 12–13)