BRUSSELS (AFP) – Armand Duplantis has waited a long time in Brussels as he failed in a new attempt to break his own world record of 6.18 meters, but the Swede is confident he will add at least one centimeter to the mark.
As a slight chill set in at the King Baudouin stadium on Friday (September 3), Duplantis was forced to put on his tracksuit as technical officials scrambled to raise the bar.
All the other disciplines of the Diamond League reunion were over and the post-event firework DJs and technicians were patiently waiting backstage for their moment of fame.
The track host did his best to keep the loud crowd of 28,000 on their toes and eventually the bar was raised so that Duplantis could line up, ready to hit the track.
Speaking ahead of the competition, Duplantis had said that an almost perfect combination of proper competition, good weather and a supportive crowd was needed to set a new world record.
The stars have surely lined up in the Belgian capital, but technical issues have played against the 21-year-old in his attempt to produce this latest record.
“I couldn’t ask for better conditions. It was warm enough, there was no wind, everything was perfect,” he said. “It was up to me.
“The crowd was unreal. I haven’t had such an amazing atmosphere during the competition for a very long time.
“All eyes were on me when I attacked the world record. It’s always a special feeling, really cool.”
Duplantis, known by his nickname “Mondo”, set the current world record of 6.18m indoors in Glasgow last year, before setting an outdoor world record of 6.15m in Rome, eclipsing finally the 1994 mark established by an all-time great. Sergey Boubka.
For his rivals, it is simply a matter of catching up. His closest rival in Friday’s peloton was American Christopher Nilsen, who jumped 5.97m to win silver in Tokyo and again finished second in Brussels.
A game of centimeters
First for Duplantis, he won the competition, regularly with a jump of more than 6 m. This time it was a competition record of 6.05m.
It is important to remember that there is a very small club of pole vaulters who have even exceeded this mythical height.
Only 16 have done so in the history of aerobatics, and many of them are now retired from the sport.
Duplantis now regularly aims for a new world record once the victory is over – as he did in the Olympic final, the bar immediately rose from victory height to 6.19m.
His three attempts at this height are nail-biting business.
In Brussels, Queen’s We Will Rock You growled on the tannoy as the one-person crowd sang and clapped in unison as Duplantis prepared for the first jump.
Moans of ooh and aah greeted the sight of the Swede cutting the bar and dropping it with him onto the mat.
The same drama unfolded two more times as he gathered the post each time and pulled back to focus on a second, and then a third, attempt.
“I felt good,” he said of his evening’s aerobatics. “I was really close to the world record. This height demands perfection on your part.
“The last two efforts weren’t really bad. It’s a centimeter game and today I lost the game, but one of these days I’m going to take it. For sure.”