Mondo Duplantis has dominated the pole vault for so long that it’s strange to think that he will be fighting for his first outdoor world championship this Sunday. But it is so. Following the disappointment of Doha 2019 when he was silver behind American Sam Kendricks – who is recovering from knee surgery and will not be in Oregon – a second act of bad luck after being ruled out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for testing positive for Covid — nothing seems to be able to stop the 22-year-old Swedish child prodigy now. Or almost nothing.
His great rival will be another American, Chris Nilsen, 24, silver at the Tokyo 2020 games – just behind Duplantis – American record with 6.05 meters this year, who made his home in the first World Cup on American soil will be particularly motivated, although in his comments he doesn’t seem overly confident in his chances of causing a stir. “I hope to finish in the top five,” he said after winning the American title. Besides the Swede, he is the only one who jumped unfailingly into the World Cup final: Nilsen on 5.50, 5.65 and 5.75. Duplantis only on the last two heights.
Gold for Duplantis would be the logical consequence of the level he has been demonstrating for so long, nothing surprising despite his difficulty so will also look to see if he sets a new threshold never crossed before. In March, at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, he left the bar at 6.20m. Going back over it would make the legend even bigger in a championship chasing world records – with two days left the big one had American Sydney McLaughlin just beaten the 400-meter hurdles -. There is another alternative to shine the victory, albeit a little less heroic: exceeding the 6.16m, which is the best mark ever outdoors, reached just over three weeks ago in Stockholm.
“I feel like I’m definitely in shape to win the title,” he said recently after a Diamond League friendly. “And maybe to do something special in Eugene,” he added. $100,000 is the economic price of each broken world record. Being in the story is the intangible reward.