Of all the finals that have been decided at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23, only the men’s pole vault retained its medallists from Oregon – and then some.
In a thrilling contest, which served as one of the highlights of day eight, world record-holder Mondo Duplantis, Asian champion Ernest Obiena, and Olympic silver medallist Chris Nilsen completed the podium once again, albeit in a different order. And, similar to the women’s pole vault where the gold medal was shared, this time the bronze was shared between Nilsen and two-time Commonwealth champion Kurtis Marschall, who earned his first global medal. Obiena upgraded his Oregon bronze to silver.
For a man who has become so accustomed to winning, Duplantis approached this evening’s contest with a bit of sobriety, perhaps still smarting from his defeat in Monaco where he was relegated to fourth.
He even started out with the opening height of 5.55m with the rest of the field, much to everyone’s surprise, but was the last man standing and took the gold medal with 6.10m. Obiena, who was the only other man in the field to successfully clear 6.00m, equalled his own Asian record.
In successfully defending his title, the Olympics champion becomes the third man after the legendary Sergey Bubka and Sam Kendricks to successfully defend a world pole vault title.
The event started out with 13 men and the bar set at 5.55m, which most of the field cleared at the first time of asking. Marschall, Belgium’s Ben Broeders and USA’s Zach Mcwhorter cleared the mark on their second attempts.
After the initial wobble, five-time Australian champion Marschall found his groove to go past 5.75m and 5.85m at his first attempt. Poland’s Robert Sobera and Turkey’s Ersu Sasma both bowed out at 5.75m, but 11 men got over it – depth only bettered at the 2007 World Championships.
The bar went up to 5.85m, taking with it five more casualties: China’s Huang Bokai and Yao Jie, Machworter, Broeders and Italy’s Claudio Stecchi.
Nilsen – who won in Monaco when Duplantis had his only defeat of the year – had missed the height at his first two tries, but crossed the bar on his third attempt.
For the first time ever in the pole vault contest, five men successfully got over 5.90m. France’s Thibaut Collet, the surprise package of the competition, did so on his first attempt to set a lifetime best, but ultimately went no higher.
Duplantis, naturally, got over 5.90m and 5.95m with ease. Likewise, Obiena succeeded on his first try at those heights. Marschall equalled his lifetime best of 5.95m and Nilsen matched that height, putting the duo in joint third.
Obiena was Duplantis’s last challenger, clearing 6.00m, but eventually bowing out after one failed try at 6.05m and two at 6.10m.
Duplantis, meanwhile, was in a class of his own, soaring over those bars with ease, each time earning a great response from the crowd.
With the title secured and the runway all to himself, Duplantis took three attempts at a would-be world record of 6.23m. They were ultimately unsuccessful, but he was still delighted with his performance.
“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. There were so many Swedish supporters here, it almost felt like I was in the Stockholm stadium.
“I’ll be ready for Paris and the Olympics but right now I want to live in the moment and enjoy these World Championships and this title,” he added. “I’ll celebrate this, then think about Paris.”
Nilsen was grateful to have overcome injuries to claim another global medal.
“This is my fourth medal from international championships in a row,” he said. “To fight my way back to the podium means a lot. I feel this one is the most important for me. My beautiful fiancée Bree is here in the stands. This is the first ever European competition she travelled to with me and that makes the competition really special.”
Marschall, meanwhile, is now turning his attention to a new target.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve performed at my best at a major. This is incomparable to anything I’ve experienced in my life. Knowing that I can produce on the world stage gives me a lot of confidence going into next year. I couldn’t be in better shape right now and I’m going to add to it so I can get over that elusive 6.00m barrier.”
|MEN’S POLE VAULT MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Mondo Duplantis 🇸🇪 SWE||6.10m|
|🥈||Ernest John Obiena 🇵🇭 PHI||6.00m =AR|
|🥉||Kurtis Marschall 🇦🇺 AUS||5.95m =PB|
|🥉||Chris Nilsen 🇺🇸 USA||5.95m|
Credit: World Athletics