Athletics: Duplantis pole vaulter without limits?

When asked what he lacked to beat the pole vault world record for a third time, Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, who cleared 6.01 m this Sunday with disconcerting ease before failing at three times at 6.19 m, sticks out his tongue. A grimace to indicate that he probably lacked a little freshness. New expression when talking about his goal for the Tokyo Games.

The pearl of world athletics has humor, and above all an ability to captivate crowds. Certainly, he did not improve his 6.18 m in Clermont-Ferrand during the All star pole vault, also marked by the return to the forefront of Renaud Lavillenie (5.94 m) in his stronghold, but he signed a fifth competition in a row above 6 m in as many outings. Never before had a pole vaulter achieved such a feat. This shows how much the world is facing a phenomenon.

“He looks more like everyone”

“He is 20 years old and 15 years of pole vaulting, he has broken records at all ages and would be capable of jumping blindfolded,” estimates former pole vaulter Philippe Collet. The pole is an extension of one’s own body. He has incredible technical mastery and exceptional physical qualities. » “It was designed for pole vaulting,” smiles Philippe D’Encausse, Renaud Lavillenie’s trainer. In the 1980s, Sergei Bubka revolutionized the discipline, Mondo Duplantis is bringing it into another era.

If the Ukrainian – who inch by centimeter had increased the record to 6.15 m – had monstrous physical qualities, “Mondo looks more like Mr. Everyman”, continues Collet. But despite around ten kilos less on the scale, he is gradually approaching the hardness of the poles used by the Tsar (Lavillenie during his world record of 6.16 m in 2014 had used a significantly softer pole ).

“The stiffer the pole, the more difficult it is to bend since it requires more energy. But if you send it more energy, it sends more back to you and you go higher, explains D’Encausse. The complexity is to take the hardest pole possible, with the most leverage possible. The limit is in the ability to take rigid poles…. »

“Parents who take the time to help him grow”

Duplantis’ strength is to be extremely fast in the momentum phase. “He’s arriving much faster than before, that clearly caught my eye,” notes the coach. At 18, he ran the 100m in 10.50. “We can consider that it is 10”30 at the moment”, underlines D’Encausse (Editor’s note: Bubka ran in 10”34).

How far can the phenomenon now go? On these 3 attempts at 6.19 m, he is above the bar. “But pole vaulting is not a laser that measures the height of the pelvis, it’s a guy passing over a bar,” warns the coach. A pool above a bar just gives information. »

Philippe Collet would definitely see the Swede one day crossing… 6 m 30. “However, it is difficult to plan ahead,” believes Philippe D’Encausse. After the Doha Worlds, I wouldn’t necessarily have imagined that Mondo would be so high. The record one day, yes, but now… It has clearly passed into another world. It might also be due to his age. Between 20 and 25 years old, we progress more quickly. » One thing is certain: the young boy has everything to become a star. “He is also fortunate to have parents (Editor’s note: two former athletes) who take the time to help him grow,” summarizes Philippe D’Encausse. He measures the competitions, advances calmly. » By making people dream.

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