Mondo Duplantis in Ostrava (© Sona Maleterova)
Mondo Duplantis set a world pole vault lead of 6.12m in front of an expectant crowd at the Golden Spike in Ostrava on Tuesday (27).
Duplantis was at his effervescent best, making the first six-metre clearance in the meeting’s 62-year history to win the competition, before stamping his authority with a first-time clearance at 6.12m. He went on to have three failures at 6.17m, before setting his poles away to reflect on yet another night’s good work at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting.
“It was a good jump for the day. It’s always a nice feeling when you don’t feel like you leave too many bars out there and I don’t think I did. 6.12m was pretty much the most I could have done today,” he said.
Expectation inevitably follows the world record-holder in every competition, but Duplantis was characteristically relaxed.
“You learn to not worry about it that much," he added. "I genuinely just want to do the best that I possibly can and I’m going to try to get the highest bar that I possibly can. I can’t really do any more than that. I’m going to go in there and have confidence that I am going to jump high, and I am going to jump over six metres and at least try and put the meeting record up there a little higher than it is.
“I can’t really control everybody else’s expectations. If I didn’t want people to have high expectations, I would have jumped lower in the past two years. That just comes with the territory.”
Australian Kurtis Marschall savoured an outdoor PB of 5.90m in second place, with world bronze medallist Ernest John Obiena clearing the same height and placing third on countback.
Duplantis was one of five athletes to set meeting records at the Czech showpiece event of the year. Olympic and world champion Ryan Crouser was making his first appearance on European soil this year and the 23-hour journey from his homeland took a slight toll on the giant American. But he had enough in hand to win the men’s shot in 22.63m, adding 20cm to his meeting record from 2020.
“It is the third full day for me in Europe. I’ve had one of the higher jet lag days. So, to come out and throw an ugly 22.60-plus, I am happy with it," he said. "It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t technically proficient. The brain-body connection wasn’t quite working. I was even having trouble setting my feet just how I want them. I just didn’t have that top end gear to accelerate through the ball.”
New Zealand's 2017 world champion Tom Walsh was second with 22.15m, just 7cm shy of his season’s best, and home hero Tomas Stanek equalled his season’s best with 21.71m in third.
World champion Kristjan Ceh was not quite in the 70-metre form he has shown of late. But the Slovenian giant still comfortably won the men’s discus with a meeting record of 68.55m. Croatia’s Martin Markovic was next best with a third-round 64.00m, followed by Poland’s Robert Urbanek with 63.36m.
Diribe Welteji looks ever more a global contender at 1500m. The 2018 world U20 800m champion ran confidently from the front from the penultimate lap. She held off the persistence of fellow Ethiopians Hirut Meshesha and Tigist Girma for a meeting record of 3:57.38.
Meshesha and Girma were rewarded with a season’s best and a personal best respectively, as they chased through for second and third in 3:57.87 and 3:59.33.
A meeting record was always on the cards in a stacked women’s 100m hurdles field and Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn duly delivered. She sliced 0.13 off the previous best to win in 12.42 (0.0m/s), holding off 2018 world U20 champion Tia Jones and world champion Tobi Amusan, who pressed her hard, finishing in 12.44 and 12.47, both season's best performances.
“I’ll take it. A win is a win. It was cold out here,” said Puerto Rican Camacho-Quinn. “I have a lot of things to clean up. If we had the weather we had yesterday it might have been faster. I have trained and raced against Tia a lot, so I know how she is, once she gets going. At that point, I was just trying to keep it together before I crossed the line.”
There were two thrilling finishes in the men’s middle-distance races. The world record-holder at the 3000m steeplechase, Lamecha Girma, tracked the pacemakers all the way, seeking a quick time. But he looked to have underestimated the opposition when George Mills, Mafori Ryan Mphahlele and Isaac Nader streamed by, heading into the final straight.
But the steeplechaser’s strength told and he reeled them back to edge the win in 3:33.15, clipping 0.62 off his lifetime best. Mphahlele was second in 3:33.38, Mills third in 3:33.85 and Nader fourth in 3:34.01.
In the men’s 800m, 2018 world indoor bronze medallist Saul Ordonez led into the final lap as the pacemaker peeled away. He looked beaten when Elliot Giles moved past him with 150m to go, but the Spaniard responded and regained the lead in the closing 50m to win in a season’s best of 1:44.85. Giles tied with Italy’s Simone Barontini for second with 1:45:03, also season’s bests for the pair.
There was a South African double in the men’s short sprints. In the 100m, Olympic and world finalist Akani Simbine executed expertly, running away from a class field to win in 9.98 (0.6m/s). The challenge of Joseph Fahnbulleh never materialised. He was sluggish from the blocks and came home fifth in 10.26, and withdrew from the 200m. World finalist Luxolo Adams won the 200m in a season’s best of 20.22 (0.4m/s).
In the one-lap events, pre-race favourites Muzala Samukonga of Zambia and Natalia Kaczmarek of Poland won in contrasting styles.
In the men’s race, Samukonga left himself with work to do in the final straight. But showing immense strength, the African champion effortlessly accelerated through the field and had ample time to celebrate, crossing the finish line in 45.05. South Africa’s Zakithi Nene was second in 45.22 and Ukraine’s Oleksandr Pohorilko third in 45.37.
In the women’s race, Kaczmarek fed off Lada Vondrova just inside her in lane five. Cheered on by a vociferous home crowd the Czech went off hard, but Kaczmarek bided her time and pulled away in the closing 100m to win in 50.88 with Vondrova 0.55 adrift in second.
Muzala Samukonga wins the 400m in Ostrava (© Sona Maleterova)
France’s Wilhem Bolocian caused a minor surprise in the men’s 110m hurdles, winning in 13.25 (0.5m/s). Taking advantage of a quick getaway, he held of his compatriot and the European bronze medallist Just Kwaou-Mathey and Cuban Roger Iribarne in 13.32 and 13.33, respectively.
Jessie Knight won the women’s 400m hurdles in 54.96. The British athlete finished strongest, holding off Nikoleta Jichova of Czechia and South Africa’s Taylon Bieldt in second and third with 55.17 and 55.35, respectively.
Back in the field, world bronze medallist Haruka Kitaguchi dominated the women’s javelin. The Japanese record-holder’s second-round best of 63.72m gave her significant breathing space. Serbia’s European silver medallist Adriana Vilagos unleashed the only other 60m throw, landing a final round season’s best effort of 61.22m.
On her comeback to competition, 41-year-old two-time Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova was a crowd-pleasing sixth with 57.23m. In the men’s javelin, under the watchful eye of meeting director, coach and still world record-holder Jan Zelezny, Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlejch won with a solid 81.93m.
European bronze medallist Tina Sutej beat 2018 world U20 champion Amalie Svabikova on countback in the women’s pole vault with both clearing a best of 4.54m. France’s Margot Chevrier was third with 4.54m.
Chris Broadbent for World Athletics