As the World Athletics Awards 2023 draws near, we’re shining a spotlight on the 10 finalists – five men and five women – for the World Athlete of the Year awards.
Today the focus is on Swedish pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis.
Just when it seemed like Mondo Duplantis couldn’t possibly have had a better season than last year, along comes 2023.
The Swedish superstar pole vaulter improved on his world record indoors and outdoors, successfully defended his world title, and racked up another 20 clearances at 6.00m or higher.
His year started with a bang as he scaled 6.10m on home soil in Uppsala. After winning in Berlin (6.06m) and Lievin (6.01m), Duplantis capped his indoor campaign with a world record of 6.22m in Clermont-Ferrand.
Duplantis opened his outdoor season at the Continental Tour Gold meeting in California at the end of May, clearing a world-leading 5.91m. He returned to six-metre territory just one week later, vaulting 6.11m at the FBK Games in Hengelo, then notching up victories in Oslo (6.01m), Ostrava (6.12m) and Stockholm (6.05m).
After winning in Silesia with 6.01m, Duplantis suffered a rare defeat in Monaco where he placed fourth with 5.72m.
It was just the fire he needed heading into the World Championships.
After making easy work of the qualifying round, Duplantis returned to the runway three days later for the pole vault final. He didn’t put a foot wrong, clearing all of his heights on the first attempt, up to and including his winning vault of 6.10m.
That’s not to say it was a complete walk-over, though. In a high quality competition, Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines took silver with 6.00m, while Australia’s Kurtis Marschall and USA’s Chris Nilsen shared the bronze with 5.95m.
“I'm really happy about all these consecutive golds,” said Duplantis, who had won world titles indoors and out in 2022, as well as taking Olympic gold in 2021. “I don't know where this one ranks, but I'm happy to keep winning. This was maybe the craziest atmosphere I've ever competed in so it meant a lot to be able to turn on a pole vault show for them.
“I'll be ready for Paris and the Olympics but right now I want to live in the moment and enjoy these World Championships and this title.”
Having ticked off his biggest goal for the year, Duplantis then set his sights on his stretch target for 2023: another improvement on his own world record.
He won in Zurich (6.00m) and in Brussels (6.10m), both times taking good – but ultimately unsuccessful – attempts at the world record.
Then at the Wanda Diamond League Final in Eugene – his final competition of the year, and back on the runway where he had broken the world record in 2022 to win the world title – Duplantis ended his season in the best possible way.
He soared over 5.62m, 5.82m and 6.02m to secure victory. And then, with his first attempt, he got over 6.23m to add a centimetre to his own world record.
“The limit is very high, and I hope that I can continue to jump well and keep jumping higher than I did today,” said Duplantis. “But, for now, I’m not really thinking about anything except enjoying this moment and enjoying what I just did.”
By the end of a long season, Duplantis had won 16 of his 17 competitions. He cleared six metres in 13 of those competitions, notching up a combined total of 20 six-metre vaults.
He now owns the top eight vaults in history and a total of 74 six-metre vaults – which translates to 36% of all the six-metre vaults ever achieved in the history of the sport.
• The World Athletes of the Year will be announced on World Athletics’ social media platforms on 11 December as part of the World Athletics Awards 2023 – and you and a friend can be part of the celebrations.
One lucky person and a companion will win a once-in-a-lifetime VIP trip to Monaco during the annual World Athletics Awards.
The winners of the fan VIP trip will get to spend three nights (9-11 December) in Monaco and meet the best athletes of 2023 in person. Flights, accommodation and evening meals will all be included.