Report08 Feb 2020

6.17! Duplantis breaks world pole vault record in Torun


Armand Duplantis scales 6.17m to break the world pole vault record in Torun (© Jean-Pierre Durand)

Armand Duplantis broke the world record in the pole vault, clearing 6.17m at the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland, the fourth stop of the World Athletics Indoor Tour, on Saturday (8).

Competing in just his second competition of the 2020 season, the 20-year-old Swede added one centimetre to the mark set by Renaud Lavillenie in Donetsk, Ukraine, in 2014.

Duplantis cleared the record height on his second attempt, which came on just his sixth jump of the competition.

"It's something that I wanted since I was three years old," Duplantis said. "It's a big year, but it's a good way to start it."

With the five other starters in the field topping out at 5.52m, the evening was all but an exhibition for Duplantis, who went on with first attempt clearances at 5.72m, 5.92m and 6.01m. On his first attempt at 6.17m, he brushed the bar with his thigh on the way up, sending it crashing down. Despite the miss, Duplantis felt his confidence soar.

"After that first attempt, I thought, 'yeah, I just need two more attempts at this and I got it'. I was pretty confident that I had it."

He only needed one more. It wasn't clean - again he brushed it slightly on the way up - but the bar stayed on as he sailed back down to earth. For the first time, as a world record holder.

Competing alone, he became the master of his own destiny. He played it well.

"I got to pick my heights. For this kind of situation where I could pick my heights and do whatever I wanted, and when I was ready to just put it up to 6.17m, it played well.”

The record caps a sensational and unprecedented rise in the discipline by Duplantis, a pole-vaulting wunderkind who began setting age group records at age seven. It will probably take some time for the magnitude of his achievement to set in.

“How do you explain a dream that's been a dream since you were three years old? It's a big dream, too. It's not a little dream. And it's a whole process building up to that moment. I can't really get my head around it.”

He’s got time for that. He won’t be back in competition again until next Saturday in Glasgow.

In fast 1500m, Tsegay breaks into all-time top-10, Hailu breaks world U20 record

The world record was one of four world leads on the night; Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia produced the first, scorching to a 4:00.09 victory in the 1500m to move all the way up to No. 7 all-time. The 23-year-old, who raced to world bronze over the distance last year, did much of the work herself, running from the front alone soon after the 800 metre point when the pacesetter stepped off the track.


Gudaf Tsegay in Torun


Compatriot Lemlem Hailu briefly put a challenge, moving past Moroccan Rababe Arafi with three laps to go, but over the ensuing lap couldn't chip away at Tsegay's three-metre lead. She powered away even further over the final 120 metres to cross the line unchallenged, clipping nearly two seconds from her previous indoor best of 4:01.81.

Hailu's travails were nonetheless rewarded with a 4:01.79 world U20 record*, breaking the mark Tsegay set in Glasgow in 2016.

Arafi was third in 4:02.46, also a lifetime best. Axumawit Embaye, the winner in the Karlsruhe Tour leg and runner-up in Dusseldorf, was never in the hunt, finishing a distant fourth in 4:06.06.

Bekh-Romanchuk improves to 6.96m

Soon after, Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk extended her own world lead in the long jump, threatening the seven-metre barrier for the second time in eight days.


Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk sailing to victory in Torun


With the victory secure, the 24-year-old Ukrainian soared to a 6.96m effort in the final round, four centimetres better than her winning mark in Karlsruhe and an absolute personal best. Bekh-Romanchuk, the silver medallist at the World Championships last year, pieced together a solid series, which included a 6.85m leap in the fourth round and 6.77m in the fifth.

Nigeria's Ese Brume made the most of her rare indoor appearance with a 6.62m indoor career best, also from round six. Lorranie Ugen from Great Britain was third with 6.52m.

National record for Swiety-Ersetic

Justyna Swiety-Ersetic likes the Torun Arena track. Two years ago she set the Polish indoor record here, clocking 51.78. She shattered it this year, powering to a 51.37 performance and taking the victory as well with another world lead.

Lisanne De Witte, the winner in Dusseldorf four days ago, was second in 51.90, a lifetime best. She narrowly edged meet record holder Lea Sprunger of Switzerland, who clocked 51.93.

Hurdles wins for Talay and Pozzi

Putting two sub-par Tour outings behind her, Alina Talay snuck through in a blanket finish to notch an upset victory in the women's 60m hurdles. The field was even for the first half of the race until Tobi Amusan, Christina Clemons and Talay began to pull away. The Belarusian took the win on the lean in 7.87, with Amusan and Clemons next, both credited with 7.89.


Alina Talay (l) en route to victory in Torun


The men's race was even closer. Lined in lanes five and four, respectively, world indoor champion Andrew Pozzi and Jarret Eaton were out strong, virtually stride-for-stride from the gun through to the finish. After a pause, Pozzi was declared the winner in 7.53, a scant 0.01 ahead of Eaton and Pole Damian Czykier, who closed fast to nearly take an upset victory.


Andy Pozzi in action in Torun


The 60m flats were also close. In another blanket finish, European indoor champion Jan Volko took the men's race in 6.58, 0.01 ahead of Dutchman Joris van Gool who was 0.01 clear of Briton Richard Kilty, a season's best for the latter and career best for the former.

Shania Collins of the US won the women's in 7.24, just ahead of Slovenia's Mihalinec who clocked 7.26. Ajla Del Ponte of Switzerland was third, also credited with 7.26.

Stanek takes shot put showdown

Tomas Stanek rained on the local's expected shot put parade, collecting his first of the season. After 20.91 and 20.97 efforts in the first and second round, the Czech reached 21.86m in round three to effectively seal the victory.

In his season's debut, European champion Michal Haratyk threw 21.50 in the first round, a mark that held up for second. Dusseldorf winner Filip Mihaljevic of Croatia, the winner in Dusseldorf, was third here with 21.42m. Meet record holder Konrad Bukowiecki, was never a factor, reaching just 20.39m to finish a distant sixth.

Sneaking by Dutchman Tony Van Diepen to take the lead at the bell, Yousef Karam of Kuwait held it firmly over the second lap to win convincingly in 46.26, to move up to equal-fifth on the Asian area all-time list. Van Diepen clocked 46.78 for second.

Collins Kipruto capped the evening with an upset victory over world indoor champion Adam Kszczot in 1:45.86, a personal best for the Kenya. Kszczot clocked 1:46.01, barely fending off compatriot Marcin Lewandowki, whose 1:46.05 was also a season's best.

Elsewhere, Ignacio Fontes of Spain held off Brazilian Thiago Andre to take the men's 1500m 3:38.57 to 3:39.13.

The World Athletics Indoor Tour moves to Glasgow next Saturday.

Bob Ramsak for World Athletics

*subject to the usual ratification procedures