Mondo Duplantis in Dusseldorf (© AFP/Getty Images)
Mondo Duplantis made his 2021 debut a notable one, scaling 6.01m to cap the ISTAF Indoor Dusseldorf, a World Athletics Indoor Tour Silver meeting on Sunday (31).
After sailing over 5.52m and 5.72m with his first attempts, the 2020 World Athlete of the Year needed a second go before topping 5.86m. He then cleared 5.91m with his first effort to seal the victory, sending the bar up to 6.01m.
His first attempt was a solid one, but he nudged the bar slightly with his knee on the way down, sending it off the pegs. His second attempt was clean though, adding one centimetre to the meeting record he set last year and six centimetres to the world lead Renaud Lavillenie set in Karlsruhe two days ago.
The 21-year-old then capped the competition with one attempt at a would-be 6.19m world record. But he never left the ground, running through instead before deciding to call it a day.
“I'm pretty happy with the result," Duplantis said. "I wanted to get over six metres in the first meet. I knew going in I was going to be a little rusty. That's just kind of how it is in the first meet - the approach and the timing are going to be just a little bit off. I was able to figure it out so I'm pretty happy with the 6.01 jump and the win.”
Duplantis competes next in Rouen, France, on Saturday (6), with World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold meeting stops in Lievin (9) and Torun (17) to follow.
German Torben Blech twice improved his absolute career best, topping 5.81m and 5.86m to finish second. Sam Kendricks was third with 5.81m.
Mihambo over Sagnia on countback at 6.74m
Malaika Mihambo won the long jump on countback over Swede Khaddi Sagnia at 6.74m. The German took control of the competition with that leap in the third round, and backed it up with a 6.73m effort in the fifth round while Sagnia produced hers in the final round after reaching 6.66m with her fifth leap.
Mihambo, the 2019 world champion, jumped off of a long run-up for the first time in 11 months, and said she was pleased with her competition, particularly her final effort, a long foul.
"Before the last jump, I changed my run-up a bit, because until then I hadn't been able to perfectly meet the take-off board," she said. "Unfortunately, the last jump was not valid, because it would have been a long one. My coach took a picture that showed that the jump went far beyond seven metres. This makes me confident for the competitions to come."
Another 60m win for Asher-Smith
On the track, the highlight came in the women's 60m, where Dina Asher-Smith won her second race in less than 48 hours. Shaking off the early afternoon rust with a 7.15 win in the heats, the British record holder was marginally faster in the final, taking the win in 7.12, just clear of rising Swiss star Ajla Del Ponte, who clocked 7.16, to clip 0.01 from her previous best.
"Overall it was okay," said Asher-Smith, who equalled her career best of 7.08 in Karlsruhe on Friday and is looking to cap her first indoor season since 2018 at the European Indoor Championships. "Obviously I am really excited. (The competitive juices) have to be flowing again. It is very nice to be competing.”
Arthur Cisse was the overwhelming victory in the men's 60m. The clear leader just 20 metres into the race, the 24-year-old from Ivory Coast pulled ahead and away less than 20 metres later to eventually reach the line in 6.54.
"It is great to start my season like this," said Cisse, who was just 0.01 shy of the national record he set in 2019. "The race was not perfect but I am sure to be able to improve things." He'll race next on Friday (5) in the Berlin stop of the ISTAF series, another World Athletics Indoor Tour Silver meeting.
Kevin Kranz of Germany was a distant second in 6.61.
The closest race of the afternoon was the men's 60m hurdles, where the nod went to Poland's Damian Czykier over Aaron Mallett of the US, both credited with 7.64. Just 0.008 of a second separated the pair at the line.
The women's race was nearly as close. Dutchwoman Nadine Visser and Alina Talay of Belarus raced virtually stride-for-stride until the final barrier, when Visser edged ahead by the slightest margin to take an 8.01 victory. Talay was just 0.01 back in 8.02 with Zoe Sedney of the Netherlands third in 8.04, a lifetime best.
Visser was pleased with the win but not necessarily content with her performance.
"I am not happy about the race because two days ago I ran 7.96 in a race that did not feel good. So I hoped to improve here in Düsseldorf." She'll also return to action in Berlin on Friday.
While the meeting was held without spectators, organisers produced a lively broadcast-friendly atmosphere, replete with loud music, lights, fire and smoke.
Bob Ramsak for World Athletics