Mondo Duplantis sets sights on outdoor pole vault gold at World Championships
STOCKHOLM— After sweeping all before him in recent seasons, Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis arrives in Eugene seeking the one main prize that has so far eluded him in his short career – gold at the World Championships.
The 22-year-old Louisiana native has had a meteoric rise to the top since bursting onto the scene in 2019, setting world records and winning Olympic gold, but his best result at the World Championships is a silver medal won in his debut year.
“I am in a great shape and it is all about building to the world champs,” Duplantis said after a recent Diamond League meet.
“I don´t really feel the pressure, only the pressure I put on myself. I think I could go high in Oregon, and it is important to be in my best shape there.”
Duplantis set the current world record of 6.20 meters at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade earlier this year, and sailed high over the bar to set a world-best outdoor mark of 6.16 meters at the Diamond League event in Stockholm in June.
For the American fans that will pack the stands in Oregon, it’s a case of what might have been.
“Mondo”, as he is nicknamed, could have competed in the stars and stripes of the U.S., but he was convinced to pick Sweden by youth team coach Jonas Anshelm.
“His older brother Andreas represented Sweden as a pole vaulter as well. I went via Facebook, contacting Andreas asking for the phone number to Greg, Mondo and Andreas’ father, saying I would like to have Mondo in the team,” Anshelm told the official Olympic YouTube channel in an interview.
Mondo initially rejected the Swedish approach, but things changed when his father was offered a role in the Swedish coaching set-up.
“A couple of weeks later he (Greg) called me up and said ‘we’re on, we’ll go for Sweden’,” Anshelm recalled.
Duplantis’ preparations for the World Championships have been taking place in Louisiana, partly at the Louisiana State university where he made his name and partly at the backyard facility he and his family built during the pandemic.
Having declined to have a go at the world record in Stockholm, he may well choose to try to set a new mark in Oregon.
“This is an entertainer. He’s going for it, he will put on a show for you,” is how Anshelm describes him, and few would argue against Duplantis being one of the big draws in Eugene.