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Duplantis opens season with 6.00m

All bets for the Olympic pole vault title are off if Sweden’s Armand Duplantis maintains – let alone improves on – the scintillating form he showed on his season’s debut at the PSD Bank Meeting in Dusseldorf on Tuesday (6) night.

After two attempts at his third height of the competition at 5.70m, Duplantis cleared the next succession of heights in a manner not too dissimilar to his run to the title at the Berlin 2018 European Athletics Championships some eighteen months ago when he was only a teenager.

Duplantis cleared 5.80m and then world leading heights of 5.90m and 5.95m on his first attempts with nonchalant ease before requiring two attempts at the next height of 6.00m – a height which saw his great rival, the two-time world champion Sam Kendricks from the United States, depart from the competition with a mark of 5.80m.

Duplantis didn’t attempt a world record on that night in Berlin but the 20-year-old has benefitted from two more seasons of winter training since that breakthrough win and he asked the officials to fix the bar at 6.17m – one centimetre in excess of Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie’s near six-year-old world record.

This was the first time the Swede has attempted the world record and while respectful of the height, he was by no means overawed by it. His first attempt at 6.17m suggested the height is within his capacity and he almost succeeded on his second attempt. Duplantis brushed the crossbar on the ascent – not sufficiently enough to dislodge it – but it was his right elbow that knocked the bar off the pegs, much to his frustration.

Taking full advantage of the five minutes allowed in between vaults, Duplantis regained his composure for a third attempt at a prospective world record height but his second attempt remained the best of the three.

“I thought it was possible. That second attempt at 6.17m was as good as I could have expected. Training’s been going really well. I feel very fit, very in shape. You don’t think that everything’s going to be put together in your first meet just because you’re physically fit. But it came together. It came together nicely, it came together at a good time. I’m excited about the rest of the season,” he told World Athletics after the competition.

Duplantis’ next competition will be the Copernicus Cup in Torun on 8 February. He is also confirmed for Lievin on 19 February and the All-Star Perche by Quartus in Clermont-Ferrand on 23 February, the meeting organised by Lavillenie.

Lavillenie broke the world record in Donetsk under the watchful eye of Sergey Bubka who founded that meeting in his home city. With Duplantis in such redoubtable early season form, could history repeat at the end of the month?

source EA

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