Athletics

Rivals praise pole vaulter Armand Duplantis for breaking world record

Swede sets world indoor mark of 6.17m, eclipsing previous record by 1cm

World silver medallist Armand Duplantis, who soared to a pole-vault world record of 6.17m, can reach even higher heights, said Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, whose indoor mark was shattered by a centimetre by the Swede.

"It is completely conceivable, there is no reason why it cannot be in the long term," Lavillenie told French newspaper L'Equipe when asked if Duplantis might one day clear 6.20m.

The 33-year-old Frenchman, who was vaulting in Rouen, France, when he heard that Duplantis, 20, broke his record yesterday morning (Singapore time), said he had expected it.

"I was prepared," he said. "He did it and it's cool for him."

European champion Duplantis realised his lifetime dream with his record topping clearance at a meet in Torun, Poland.

"It's something that I wanted since I was three years old," he said.

Duplantis made it on his second attempt after narrowly missing the record last Tuesday in Germany.

The American-born vaulter brushed the bar with his thigh on the way up on the first attempt, sending the bar crashing to the floor.

On his second, Duplantis touched the bar again, but it stayed up and the young pole-vault star, who began setting age-group records when he was seven, became the event's king.

"My emotions right when I landed in the pit, just yelling and just running around doing whatever," Duplantis said. "I don't think I had a brain for a second."

Afterward he embraced his mother, Helena, a former heptathlete and volleyball player in Sweden where Duplantis, whose nickname is Mondo, spent summers and eventually decided to represent the European country internationally.

His dad Greg, who is his coach, was a talented American pole vaulter before retiring.

"Fantastic job!" tweeted Sergey Bubka, who broke the world record 35 times during his career and still has the highest outdoor pole-vault mark at 6.14m. "It's great athletics has got such talents. Move higher!"

Duplantis' main rival, world outdoor champion Sam Kendricks, won the Rouen competition after Lavillenie failed to clear a height. He said Duplantis' record came as a surprise.

"I was on the track when the announcer said something in French and everyone calmed down," Kendricks said, after clearing a US indoor record 6.01m on his third attempt.

"I was wondering what was going on. (It was) explained that Mondo had just broken the world record. It took my breath away!

"I was so surprised, I wanted to be excited because it is a monumental moment for our sport, but I had to recover quickly to go.

"My destiny is not to beat the world record, it was that of Mondo and he did it. I am proud of him." - REUTERS

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