The morning after, pole vault world record holder Armand Duplantis felt like “in a new world”.
After an eye operation, the Olympic champion starts the World Cup year with even more anticipation, which begins for the 22-year-old Swede on Friday in Rheinstetten near Karlsruhe. “I always try to choose places where I can jump high and where I think I have a chance of breaking the world record,” said Duplantis, called “Mondo”, about the traditional meeting in North Baden. “The indoor season is very important for me.”
The world record of the miracle jumper, who was crowned gold medalist at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year, is 6.18 meters. Before the new athletics season, in which the World Championship titles will be awarded indoors in Belgrade from March 18 to 20 and outdoors in Eugene in the USA from July 15 to 24, Duplantis got rid of the surgery on eye of a handicap.
Eye surgery “a liberation”
“It’s absolutely wonderful to be able to see well again,” Duplantis said. His biggest fear has always been that the contact lenses could cause problems during a competition. And he couldn’t jump without lenses. “It’s just a liberation. You can already feel it when I’m training. Everything is so much easier,” enthused Duplantis, who was recently voted Sweden’s “Sportsman of the Year” for the second time.
The son of an American, who was a pole vaulter himself, and a Swede, once a heptathlete, developed a taste for jumping with a pole at an early age. As a three-year-old, Duplantis likes to say, he hopped onto the couch with a broomstick.
Later, after school, he also trained in pole vaulting in his parents’ garden, which “has always been part of my life”. He and his idol, the Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, are the only two pole vaulters who were able to surpass the long-standing world record height of 6.14 meters of the former exceptional talent Sergej Bubka.
Karlsruhe is happy
Now the already in its own orbit jumping “Mondo”, who was given the Italian word for “world” after his first world record and likes the nickname, feels even better. The pole vault colleagues had already been amazed. “One wonders how it is even possible that someone like that can jump so high,” the German champion Oleg Zernikel said full of respect about Duplantis after his big show in Tokyo – and even thought that the next fabulous world record was possible. “He’s still young enough, there’s still a lot to come from him. His hips, there’s even more, 6.30, 6.40 he can jump if he keeps doing it.”
In Karlsruhe, the organizers are looking forward to the superstar of the scene. “Great! That’s a huge recognition for the meeting and the work we’ve been doing here in Karlsruhe for many years,” said sports director Alain Blondel of the German Press Agency. “For me he is currently the best track and field athlete there is.” Wherever Duplantis jumps, “great heights are guaranteed”.
For Duplantis, who had to wait until the eyes were fully grown before having the laser surgery, the expectations are not a burden. On the contrary. He wanted world titles and “a new world record,” he told the Swedish newspaper “Aftonbladet” and assured: “I’ve never felt more ready for it.”