BUDAPEST: Sweden’s pole vault king Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis today soared into the final at the World Athletics Championships.
Skipping the opening mark of 5.35m, the world and Olympic champion then had three successful vaults at 5.55m, 5.70m, and 5.75m respectively.
That was sufficient to lead all of the 12 competitors to progress to Saturday’s final in Budapest.
“I didn’t waste too much energy during qualification. Everything went as I wanted to,” Duplantis said.
“In the final and record-wise, everything is possible. It is up to me to go out there and put the right jump together at the right time.”
“But I’m focused on winning the competition and taking home the gold medal. I’m in good shape and I feel good technically, so I would say everything is ready to have a great jump on Saturday.”
Duplantis, 23, is bidding to claim a sixth successive title. He was the European, world outdoor, and world indoor champion in 2022, and the Olympic and European indoor winner in 2021.
His last defeat at a major championship was when he was 19, finishing runner-up to American Sam Kendricks at the 2019 world championships in Doha.
Duplantis comes into Budapest on the back of a rare defeat – only his fourth since 2019. The world champion and world record holder finished fourth at last month’s Monaco Diamond League meet.
But he leads the 2023 world outdoor list by a mile, thanks to the 6.12m he cleared in Ostrava in June.
He also improved his world record to 6.22m indoors in Clermont-Ferrand in February and he boasts the second-best outdoor vault, 6.11m in Hengelo, and five six metre-plus outdoor clearances in all in 2023.
Only two other vaulters in the field, Norway’s Sondre Guttormsen, and Filipino Ernest John Obiena, had gone over six metres this season, but the Norwegian failed to make it out of qualifying.
Duplantis, who set a then-world record of 6.21m to win world gold in Eugene last year, will again meet reigning world silver and bronze medallists Chris Nilsen of the US and Obiena in the final in the Hungarian capital.
Nilsen said he was headed for a full ice bath after three hours in the sweltering heat.
“I am from South Dakota and there it is around 21 to 22 °Celsius, so these temperatures are kind of crazy!” the American said.
“Hopefully, the final in the evening will be cooler.”
The hot conditions didn’t bother Duplantis, however, the Swede born and raised in Louisiana said: “It is quite hot, but I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing.”
“I think early in the morning the body needs to warm up naturally, so it was nice.”