February 9, 2020 / 5:07 AM / 18 days ago

Duplantis can soar higher, says former pole vault record holder

(Reuters) - World silver medallist Mondo Duplantis who soared to a pole vault world record 6.17 metres on Saturday can reach even higher heights, said Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, whose mark the Swede shattered by a centimetre.

FILE PHOTO: Sweden's Armand Duplantis is seen in action in the Doha 2019 World Athletics Championships Mens Pole Vault Final in Doha, Qatar, October 1, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File photo

“It is completely conceivable, there is no reason why it cannot be in the long term,” Lavillenie told newspaper L’Equipe when asked if Duplantis might one day clear 6.20 metres.

The Frenchman, who was vaulting in Rouen, France, when he heard about Duplantis’ record, said he had been expecting it. “I was prepared,” he said.

“He did it and it’s cool for him.”

European champion Duplantis realised his lifetime dream with his record topping clearance at a meet in Torun, Poland.

“It’s something that I wanted since I was three years old”, the 20-year-old said.

He made it on his second attempt after narrowly missing the record on Tuesday in Germany.

The American-born vaulter brushed the bar with his thigh on the way up on the first attempt, sending the bar crashing to the floor.

On his second, Duplantis again touched the bar again but it stayed up and the young pole vault star who began setting age group records when he was seven was now the event’s king.

“My emotions right when I landed in the pit, just yelling and just running around doing whatever,” Duplantis said. “I don’t think I had a brain for a second.”

Afterward he embraced his mother, Helena, a former heptathlete and volleyball player in Sweden where Duplantis, whose given name is Armand, spent summers and eventually decided to represent the European country internationally.

His dad Greg, who is his coach, was a talented American pole vaulter before retiring.

“Fantastic job!” Sergey Bubka, who broke the world record 35 times during his career and still has the highest outdoor pole vault ever at 6.14 metres, said on Twitter.

“It’s great athletics has got such talents. Move higher!”

Duplantis’ chief rival, world outdoor champion Sam Kendricks, won the Rouen competition after Lavillenie failed to clear a height. He said Duplantis’ record came as a surprise.

“I was on the track when the announcer said something in French and everyone calmed down,” Kendricks said, after clearing a U.S. indoor record 6.01 metres on his third attempt.

“I was wondering what was going on, [It was] explained that Mondo had just broken the world record. It took my breath away! I was so surprised, I wanted to be excited because it is a monumental moment for our sport, but I had to recover quickly to go [vault].

“My destiny is not to beat the world record, it was that of Mondo and he did it. I am proud of him.”

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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