Mondo Duplantis cemented his status as the world’s best pole vaulter by winning the Olympic title with a height of 6.02m in Tokyo on Tuesday night.
The 21-year-old was pushed much of the way by Christian Nilsen of the USA, but when Nilsen failed to clear 6.02m the gold was confirmed for Duplantis.
Nilsen’s best height was 5.97m, whereas bronze went to defending champion and Olympic record-holder Thiago Braz from Brazil with 5.87m.
Team GB’s Harry Coppell, meanwhile, finished a fine seventh with 5.80m.
“It’s a surreal feeling, really, I still don’t know how to explain it,” said Duplantis. “It’s something I’ve wanted for so long and now that it’s finally here and I finally did it. It’s so crazy.
“Ever since I was a little kid I have loved this sport so much and I have always believed that it would take me to some great places and the fact that I’m actually here, I’m at the Olympics and being able to win it is fantastic.”
Runner-up Nilsen said: “I had a couple of good jumps at six metres and I was happy to walk away with that, but at the end of the day Mondo was going to do everything in his power to win that gold and I don’t think anybody was going to stop him.”
A series of clear jumps and no failures left the Swede out on his own, so with the title already in hand he went on to challenge his own world record of 6.18m, attempting 6.19m.
A tantalisingly close first attempt was the closest he came to making yet more history – and three failed jumps meant he had to be content with the gold medal. “The world record would have been nice,” he said, “and I felt like I was close, but it is what it is. I’m not going to sit here and complain.”
This title is the latest addition to his set which already includes European outdoor and indoor titles as well as a World Championship silver from 2019. The young star will now look to complete this with his sights on the world title in Oregon next summer.
There he will probably resume his rivalry with two-time world champion Sam Kendricks, the American who was forced to miss this event after testing positive for Covid on the eve of the Games.
As for Coppell, he cleared 5.80m at his second attempt and finished one place behind 2019 world medallist Piotr Lisek of Poland and one place ahead of former world record-holder Renaud Lavillenie – the Frenchman, who was struggling with an injury coming into the Games, clearing a best of 5.70m.
Coppell, 25, attempted 5.87m, which would have been a British record and taken him on to the podium but it was not to be.
“It was an unreal experience,” he said. “Part of me is a little bit gutted because I had a great attempt at 5.87m but for my first Games this is amazing and it’s something we can build on.
“The field is unreal and it’s been an incredible competition to be a part of. I jumped the best I possibly could and I can’t believe I got seventh.”
Source: Georgie Heath