Duplantis to unleash 'inner' pole vault contest as Olympics beckon

Agence France-Presse
Duplantis to unleash 'inner' pole vault contest as Olympics beckon
Sweden's Armand Duplantis gestures during the men's pole vault final at Astana Indoor Meet for Amin Tuyakov Prizes during the 2024 World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold in Astana, on January 27, 2024.

PARIS, France -- Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis kicks off his outdoor season at the Xiamen Diamond League meet on Saturday confident that his "inner" competition will keep pushing him to new heights.

The US-born Swede has dominated men's pole vaulting over the last three seasons, setting seven world records and packing out his trophy case as opponents fail to keep pace.

In an interview with AFP, Duplantis fired out a warning shot to any potential rivals, stating with his trademark confidence that now was the time to aim for some big heights with the Olympics approaching.

"My form is good," the 24-year-old said. "It’s about that time to start having to get into really good form for Paris."

Duplantis has already won the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow this year, his second global under-cover title.

It added to a vast medal haul that includes Olympic gold from Tokyo, two world outdoor titles and two European golds. A third European title, in Rome in June, is also firmly in his crosshairs.

"The Euros are very big and come before the Olympics," he said. "So it's something that I have a lot of focus on in the moment when it comes and it's another title that you want to add to the collection.

"It would be great to get a third there."

Duplantis is a rare entity in the world of track and field, often sealing victory when most of the field have dropped out.

Having seen off the opponent who gets closest on the day, he then enters another phase of the competition, more often than not ending with a tilt at yet another world record.

He insisted that the pressure of performing all alone had become the norm.

“For the most part you get pretty used to it," he said.

"I expect those kind of things out of myself and I expect myself to be attempting more records at most competitions, or the competitions where the conditions are good and everything is set up and in place for me to attempt those kind of heights."

Duplantis added: "I just try to get the most out of myself every single competition.

"I hope that it ends up at a world record attempt and or a record.

“I want it just as much as everybody else do. So I think that kind of outweighs all the pressure."

- 'In class of his own' -
Duplantis, whose world record stands at 6.23 metres, told AFP at the event organised by his sponsor Puma that he remained highly motivated.

"It is probably competition within yourself, whether you're the best in the world or you're just starting out.

"It's been like that ever since I first started out. I'm just trying to get the most out of myself and I'm just competing against me versus the bar... against people inside of you, just on paper, really.

“So every day I go out there and have a jump and I just try to get the most out of myself.

"And you always end up losing because there always ends up being the bar that you can't conquer on that day. But you try to give it your best shot and you see how many times you can get over it."

Veteran vaulter Renaud Lavillenie, who won Olympic gold in 2012 and silver in 2016 and was a Diamond League champion in the pole vault for an unprecedented seven straight years, said Duplantis was in a class of his own.

"It's not possible to catch him at the moment because he's above everyone else in so many aspects," the 37-year-old Frenchman told AFP.

"But it remains sport and anything can happen. In the past you can see with anyone, myself, Sergey Bubka, it was never always easy at any championship.

"But Mondo is somewhat the master of his own destiny. Currently he's the sole athlete who can easily clear 6m, vault 6.05 or 6.10, much higher than the others. It's a real advantage for winning everything."

In Xiamen, Duplantis will be one of 12 Olympic gold medallists on show at the Egret Stadium.

The Swede is one of four men present to have cleared 6.00m, alongside the American pair of Christopher Nilsen and Sam Kendricks, and Norway's Sondre Guttormsen.

It would take a brave punter to bet against Duplantis claiming another win as he hones his technique for a tilt at a second Olympic title in Paris in August.

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