Mondo Duplantis: Five things you didn't know about the world record holder
Mondomania is back!
It’s not often that one athlete can change the entire perception of a sport, but world record breaker Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis has done exactly that in the pole vault.
Ever since the American-born Swede burst on to the scene - breaking just about every age-group world record en route to the top - pole vaulting has enjoyed more limelight than ever before.
The combination of his unique backstory, quirky personality and, of course, his prodigious talent at such a young age, is simply too much to ignore.
Below, Olympic Channel takes in five interesting facts about Duplantis you may not know...
1 - Mondo almost quit pole vaulting
Growing up in Louisiana, Duplantis showed promise with the pole vault from the age of three, but grew up playing a lot of soccer and baseball too.
And he almost picked a different career.
One summer when he was 12, he switched the pole for the bat completely, and concentrated solely on baseball.
Eventually there came a point where he had to choose one of the sports to drop, and it was athletics from there on out.
It's a good thing he stuck with the track and field event.
Three months after leaving college, an 18-year-old Duplantis became the European pole vault champion with a career-best clearance of 6.05m [19’8] in Berlin.
The mark was also a Swedish and American national record, placing him joint-second on the all-time list for outdoor jumping behind Seoul '98 Olympic champion Sergey Bubka.
2 - Duplantis has an unorthodox world record holder's diet...
Most athletics coaches and dieticians will preach the importance of vegetables in an individual's diet - and especially for an athlete!
So imagine what Duplantis would achieve if he ate them... That's right, the world-record holder doesn't eat his greens. He even admitted only eating candy before recording a 5.90m record jump at the Texas Relays.
His mother Helena is a dietician and nutritionist, but admitted, "Mondo has never really enjoyed vegetables. He would just move them to the side of the plate. We're taking it one vegetable at a time."
The World Youth champion, World Junior champion, and World U20 record-holder added that he ate too much fried chicken at college ("What did you expect, I'm from Louisiana!" he said), but is slowly working to rectify his eating habits as a professional.
Maybe a change in diet at the start of 2020 was partly behind his improved performance. He set two world records in February, jumping 6.18m in Glasgow just a week after he first broke Renaud Lavillenie's world record with a jump of 6.17m.
All that by the time he was 20!
By comparison, Usain Bolt was 21 before he first broke a world record, the age Duplantis will be at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
Given that pole vaulters typically peak in their mid- to late-20s, Mondo may reign for another decade at least.
3 - Mondo Duplantis has jumping genes
It came as no great surprise that Duplantis showed pole-vaulting promise.
His father Greg competed in the sport for Louisiana State University, before taking on the likes of Bubka internationally.
Meanwhile, his mother Helena was an accomplished Swedish heptathlete at LSU, who could long jump 6.01m [20 feet] and high jump 1.5m [5’10].
When Mondo turned professional after his year at LSU, he credited his mother - his main trainer and nutritionist - as one of the key reasons behind his development.
4 - Mondo has sporty siblings
Unsurprisingly, Duplantis' three siblings have also been blessed with sporting talent.
Duplantis’ oldest brother Andreas was also pole vault specialist at LSU, while his middle brother Antoine is the LSU baseball all-time hits leader, and was drafted by the New York Mets in the 12th round.
It is yet to be seen which sport his younger sister Johanna will choose, but rumour has it there is more talent to come for the Duplantis family.
5 - Duplantis does impersonations
Sam Kendricks, 2017 world pole vault champion, claimed that his good friend Duplantis does excellent impersonations of all their other rivals.
"He can do my technique if I asked him. He can do Renaud's [Lavillenie, London 2012 Olympic champion] technique. He can do it all. But in competition, he does it how he wants to do it, not copying anyone else."
Let's hope that one day Mondo shows us his interpretation of the great Sergey Bubka, having broken his 26-year-old outdoor world record of 6.14m in Rome in September 2020.
The Ukrainian has supported the new star of pole vault from his early years, saying that Duplantis ‘makes athletics attractive’.