Mondo Duplantis in the pole vault at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 (© Getty Images)
Olympic champion Mondo Duplantis added a centimetre to his own world pole vault record to claim his first outdoor world title, soaring over 6.21m* as the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 came to a close on an incredible high on Sunday (24).
The 22-year-old had improved his own record mark to 6.20m when winning world indoor gold in Belgrade in March and he carried that remarkable form through to the outdoor championships at Hayward Field. Afterwards he insisted that he only had that medal in mind – the world record not his focus this time – but with victory secured at 6.00m, he had the bar moved 21 centimetres higher and took the title in sensational style.
It is the fifth time that Duplantis has improved the world record, the Swedish star first breaking it with his 6.17m clearance in Torun in February 2020. That added a centimetre to the record set by Renaud Lavillenie in Donetsk in 2014.
But it is the first time that Duplantis has broken it outdoors – the last time an outdoor performance led to a world record was when pole vault great Sergey Bubka soared over 6.14m in July 1994, more than five years before Duplantis was even born.
Duplantis has now also overtaken Bubka when it comes to career six metre-plus clearances, having managed that feat 48 times to Bubka’s 46.
“It is the medal I was missing,” said Duplantis, who had earlier cleared a championship record of 6.06m on his first attempt and received a world record cheque for US$100,000 along with his gold medal. “Usually, it (the world record) is always somewhere in the back of my mind, but today I was focused on the win.”
In front of a passionate home crowd, USA’s Olympic silver medallist Chris Nilsen secured a world medal of the same colour after clearing 5.94m. That height was also managed by Philippines’ Ernest John Obiena, who added a centimetre to his own Asian record to win bronze – the first ever World Championships medal for his nation.
Duplantis entered the competition at 5.70m and decided to pass at 5.80m. The only blemish on his way to victory was a first-time failure at 5.87m, but he soon regained composure with a huge clearance of that height on his second try, moving him into a share of the bronze medal position at that stage.
Sitting with a towel over his head, he waited for his turn to attempt 5.94m and achieved it on his first go, again with plenty of room to spare. Nilsen had been the first to clear that height and so Duplantis joined him at the top of the results board, the US champion also needing two tries at 5.87m.
Obiena placed 11th in last year’s Olympic final but he launched himself into the medals in Oregon with his Asian record performance. Clearing 5.94m on his second try, his podium place was confirmed when 2012 Olympic champion Lavillenie and Germany’s Bo Kanda Lita Baehre both failed their third attempts at the height and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Thiago Braz was unable to make it over 6.00m, the Brazilian having passed straight to that attempt rather than try 5.94m for a third and final time.
Duplantis achieved the 46th six metre-plus clearance of his career on his first try and then put his hands on his hips and nodded to the crowd before punching the air. He then clapped in support as Nilsen started off on his second attempt at 6.00m, but it wasn’t to be, and Duplantis was confirmed as champion when both Nilsen and Obiena failed their third and final attempts.
The bar then moved to a championship record height – 6.06m to add a centimetre to the mark achieved by Australia’s Dmitri Markov in Edmonton in 2001. Again, Duplantis made it look so easy – clearing the bar on his first try and spreading his arms wide before bowing to the crowd.
There was no surprise as to what height he attempted next.
With the bar at 6.21m, all eyes were on the runway as Duplantis tried to launch himself skyward, but he aborted the attempt. He sat chatting with Lavillenie as he waited for his second go and then, with all other action having concluded, he returned to the track.
In the spotlight once again, the world watched as he launched himself up and over. As Duplantis fell, the bar stayed still and the pole vault star bounced straight back up before sprinting down the track and doing a forward flip in celebration.
“I love jumping in Eugene and it was amazing here,” he said. "I was getting a bit tired towards the end, but I really appreciate the crowd. You guys lifted me and gave me the energy I needed to get over the bar."
Nilsen was also delighted with his own result on home soil. “Mondo is going to keep breaking records and I am just going to keep doing my thing,” said the 24-year-old, who also claimed world indoor bronze in Belgrade. “This medal means that I am very consistent in what I am doing – to be the top three in the world.”
Obiena, who missed out on the final in Doha three years ago, returned to the world stage with the performance of his life and said: “I did not expect that I would jump that high. And I would not think that it would actually take that high to win a medal. So I am definitely happy.”
Four athletes cleared a best of 5.87m, Braz finishing fourth on countback ahead of Germany’s Oleg Zernikel, Lavillenie and Lita Baehre.
With a total of seven athletes achieving 5.87m or higher and nine men clearing 5.80m, it was the deepest men's pole vault competition in history.
Jess Whittington for World Athletics
|MEN'S POLE VAULT MEDALLISTS|
|🥇||Mondo Duplantis 🇸🇪 SWE||6.21m WR|
|🥈||Chris Nilsen 🇺🇸 USA||5.94m|
|🥉||Ernest John Obiena 🇵🇭 PHI||5.94m AR|
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure