Whenever Mondo Duplantis takes to the runway, there’s a chance the men’s world pole vault record will fall. The 23-year-old started 2023 looking to improve on the 6.21m world record he set in Oregon last year and in Clermont-Ferrand, contesting his final competition of the indoor season on Saturday (25), Duplantis wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass him by.
Delivering even more star quality at the All Star Perche, a World Athletics Indoor Tour Silver meeting, the Olympic and world champion cleared 6.22m* on his third attempt for the sixth world record of his career.
It was also the 60th six metre-plus clearance of his career, 14 more than the next best – the great Sergey Bubka – ever achieved.
Duplantis’s CV continues to grow and a performance like this certainly bodes well ahead of a season that offers him the chance to achieve another of his aims: retaining his title at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 in August.
Born: 10 November 1999. Coaches: Greg and Helena Duplantis.
The third son of former pole vaulter Greg Duplantis and former heptathlete Helena (née Hedlund), Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis was born into an athletic family. His older brothers Andreas and Antoine were introduced to pole vault at an early age; Andreas went on to represent Sweden, their mother’s country of birth, at various age-group championships, while Antoine dropped pole vault in favour of baseball.
Armand, however, showed the most promise and set numerous age-group records from as young as the age of seven. He scaled four metres for the first time at age 13 and had progressed to five metres just two years later.
During that same year, he made his international championships debut at the World U18 Championships Cali 2015 and came away with the gold medal. He followed it with a bronze medal at the World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016, where he was the youngest in the field, and came back even stronger in 2017.
He scaled a world U20 record of 5.75m during the indoor season and improved the mark to 5.90m outdoors, also breaking the senior Swedish record in the process. He went on to win the European U20 title before reaching the final at the World Championships London 2017, placing ninth.
His momentum continued in 2018. He finished seventh at the World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018, then went over heights of 5.92m and 5.93m in his first few competitions of the outdoor season. He became a regular on the Diamond League circuit and won in front of a home crowd in Stockholm. In other competitions, he beat the likes of world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie and world champion Sam Kendricks.
He went into the European Championships as one of the medal favourites, having won the world U20 title in Tampere, but few would have predicted he would win – and so convincingly. The 18-year-old popped over 6.00m on his first attempt, becoming the youngest six-metre vaulter in history, and then went on to scale 6.05m, a world U20 record.
Duplantis enrolled at Louisiana State University and had full collegiate indoor and outdoor seasons in 2019. He turned professional half way through the year and went on to notch up victories and big vaults on the international circuit. He closed out his season at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, where he took the silver medal with 5.97m.
With no collegiate competition commitments to contend with, a rejuvenated Duplantis started his 2020 campaign with a bang, clearing 6.00m in his first competition of the year at the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Dusseldorf. That was just a taster of what was to come, though, as four days later he cleared a world record of 6.17m in Torun.
He still wasn’t finished, though. At the World Athletics Indoor Tour meeting in Glasgow one week later, Duplantis stunned the athletics world again, improving his world record mark to 6.18m.
The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the early part of his outdoor season, but by the time of the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco in August, Duplantis was once again in full flow, winning with 6.00m. He continued his winning streak with six-metre vaults at the Diamond League meetings in Stockholm, Lausanne and Brussels.
At each of those meetings, he had attempted 6.15m – what would be the highest ever outdoor vault – but was unsuccessful each time. At the Golden Gala in Rome, however, it finally clicked and he got over 6.15m on his second try. Aged just 20, Duplantis became the highest vaulter in history, indoors and outdoors.
Major events returned in 2021 and Duplantis rose to the occasion at the two biggest championships of the year. The first was the European Indoor Championships in Torun, where he won with 6.05m. He then maintained that form for most of the outdoor season and delivered on the biggest stage of all, winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics with 6.02m.
He started 2022 with two key initial aims – to break the world record again and win world indoor gold. Opening his season with a 6.02m win in Karlsruhe, he went on to also triumph in Berlin, Uppsala and Birmingham, going higher than six metres each time. But he was just getting warmed up. Competing at the World Athletics Indoor Tour Silver meeting in Belgrade, at the same venue that would host the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 a couple of weeks later, he achieved 6.19m on his 54th attempt at the height but knew there was more to come.
He was right. Returning to the Stark Arena, he achieved 6.20m on just his third try to secure his first senior world title.
Still, he knew he could go higher.
“The sky is the limit,” he said in Belgrade.
An outdoor season that featured 22 six-metre-plus clearances, a Wanda Diamond Trophy win and European Championships victory was capped by another world record-breaking performance to win gold at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. There Duplantis cleared 6.21m for his first world record achieved outdoors.
The aim was again to go higher as he embarked on the indoor season in 2023. He attempted 6.22m during his season opener in Uppsala at the start of this month, eventually winning with 6.10m for his best-ever season debut. He also tried 6.22m eight days later in Berlin, where he managed a best of 6.06m. But then, in Clermont-Ferrand for his final competition of the season, Duplantis achieved the historic mark on his third attempt.
With Duplantis it does seem that the sky really is the limit.
Age 6: 1.67m
Age 7: 2.33m
Age 8: 2.89m
Age 9: 3.20m
Age 10: 3.86m
Age 11: 3.91m
Age 12: 3.97m(i)
Age 13: 4.15m
Age 14: 4.75m(i)
Age 15: 5.30m
Age 16: 5.51m
Age 17: 5.90m
Age 18: 6.05m
Age 19: 6.00m
Age 20: 6.18m(i) WR / 6.15m
Age 21: 6.10m(i) / 6.10m
Age 22: 6.21m / 6.20m(i)
Age 23: 6.22m(i)
Highest vaults in history, indoors and outdoors
1 6.22i Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Clermont-Ferrand 2023
6.21 Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Eugene 2022
6.20i Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Belgrade 2022
6.19i Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Belgrade 2022
6.18i Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Glasgow 2020
6.17i Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Torun 2020
6.16 Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Stockholm 2022
2 6.16i Renaud Lavillenie (FRA) Donetsk 2014
3 6.15i Sergey Bubka (UKR) Donetsk 1993
6.15 Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Rome 2020
6.14i Sergey Bubka (UKR) Lievin 1993
6.14 Sergey Bubka (UKR) Sestriere 1994
6.13i Sergey Bubka (UKR) Berlin 1992
6.13 Sergey Bubka (UKR) Tokyo 1992
6.12i Sergey Bubka (UKR) Grenoble 1991
6.12 Sergey Bubka (UKR) Padua 1992
6.11i Sergey Bubka (UKR) Donetsk 1991
6.11 Sergey Bubka (UKR) Dijon 1992
6.10i Sergey Bubka (UKR) San Sebastian 1991
6.10 Sergey Bubka (UKR) Malmo 1991
6.10i Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Belgrade 2021
6.10 Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Hengelo 2021
6.10i Mondo Duplantis (SWE) Uppsala 2023
Career six-metre vaults
60 Mondo Duplantis
46 Sergey Bubka
21 Renaud Lavillenie
7 Maksim Tarasov
7 Rodion Gataullin
7 Jeff Hartwig
5 Steve Hooker
5 Sam Kendricks
Indoors and outdoors, including ancillary marks
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure
Credit: World Athletics
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