Duplantis breaks pole vault outdoor world record

Bengaluru: Sweden’s biggest athletics star lived up to expectations on home soil at the Bauhaus Galan last week as on a night of surprises in Stockholm’s historic Olympic Stadium, the final Diamond League meeting, ahead of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, proved to be a not-entirely unexpected new height for Armand Duplantis. The Swede sounded an early warning to his rivals by setting up an outdoor pole vault record of 6.16M at the Stockholm Diamond League meet, breaking his previous best of 6.15, but 4cms short of his world record, set indoors, of 6.20M. The 22-year-old soared to an easy victory in the competition before having the bar set at 6.16, and he cruised over it at the second attempt to delight the home crowd. The young Swede who has recalibrated the limits of the pole vault did not attempt to improve on the absolute 6.20M world record he set indoors at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 in March, but in clearing 6.16M at the second time of asking, he added 1cm to the highest ever outdoor vault in history.

Two years after scaling 6.15M in Rome, bettering Sergey Bubka’s 6.14M from 1994, Duplantis would have lifted the roof in the 1912 Olympic arena. Such was the mighty roar from the crowd of fellow Stockholmers as he secured what was also a Diamond League and stadium record and an outdoor world lead. Having been followed around the outdoor circuit by inclement weather, the Olympic and world indoor champion took full advantage of near-ideal conditions to raise his game a significant notch ahead of his quest for a first outdoor world title in Eugene. His previous season’s best and world lead was the 6.02M he cleared in Oslo on 16 June. “I wanted to come here today and do something special. “I felt in shape and I have great support here in Stockholm where I live now. It’s my home, so it means extra more.”

As all eyes were on India’s Olympic javelin throw champion Neeraj Chopra, for Duplantis, who is now unbeaten in 12 contests indoors and out in 2022, it was a first competition in the hallowed 1912 Olympic Stadium since he became a resident of Sweden’s capital city.

“It’s a really special, kind of a home turf feeling to compete here,” said Duplantis, who won from Olympic silver medallist Chris Nilsen of the US and Brazil’s 2016 Olympic champion Thiago Braz, second and third respectively with 5.93M. “I’ve got a special tie to the stadium. It’s a really beautiful place and it’s a really solid place to jump.

“This is the time I wanted to be in my best shape. I feel like I am definitely in shape to win the title and maybe do something special in Eugene.” Duplantis sailed over 5.63M, 5.83M, 5.93M and 6.03M before taking his two attempts at 6.16M. Asked to reflect on his second-time success, he said: “It’s hard to describe it, really. You kind of black out when you’re out there. “I just remember I was trying to focus really hard on not hitting the bar. When I got over it, I just started to run like an idiot,” he added. The World Athletics Championships Oregon22 will be held from July 15 to 24.

Sunil Kumar Dhangadamajhi

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