Armand "Mondo" Duplantis, born in Louisiana in 1999, has long been pegged as the one to watch in men's pole vaulting. But few, even among the most avid track and field followers, would have expected his rise to culminate in him breaking the world record so quickly.
Born to an American pole vaulter father and Swedish long jumper mother, Duplantis opted to compete internationally for his mother's home country. In 2015, still four months shy of his 16th birthday, he won the world under-18 title; barely two years later he had already broken the under-20 world record with a clearance of 5.90m, attracting the attention of the great Sergey Bubka.
But it was another man, Renaud Lavillenie, who was Duplantis' idol growing up after they first met in 2013. "I loved the way he pole vaulted. I kind of always wanted to jump like him," Duplantis said in 2017. That winter, he went to Clermont-Ferrand to train with the French Olympic champion for a few days.
The titles continued to follow, including European Championships gold in 2018. At that event, he cleared 6.05 metres – good enough to rank him as the fifth-best vaulter of all time. Duplantis chose to attend the Louisiana State University, but gave college up after a year to focus on his burgeoning professional athletics career. A year later at the 2019 Worlds in Doha, the Swede ended up with silver after a battle against American Sam Kendricks. But nothing quite prepared Duplantis' rivals or the world for what was to follow in early 2020.
Athlete Olympic Results Content
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