Mondo Duplantis, former LSU pole vaulter from Lafayette, wins gold at Tokyo Olympic Games

Tim Buckley
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

Mondo Duplantis of Lafayette won gold for Sweden at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, clearing 6.02 meters (19 feet, 9 inches) on his first attempt.

After guaranteeing the win, Duplantis had the bar raised to 6.19 in a bid to break his own world record of 6.18 (20-3.3) . The former Lafayette High and LSU track star just missed on his first attempt, then came up short on his second.

Following a quick rest on a bench, he took a third and final try but hit the bar on his downward decent. Duplantis then headed to the stands to share victory hugs with both of his parents.

“It’s a surreal feeling, really. I still don’t know how to explain it,” Duplantis told olympics.com. “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.”

Duplantis cleared 5.8 to open his finals bid, a height only seven vaulters, half of the finals field, made. He passed on an attempt at 5.87. Two competitors cleared 5.87, American Christopher Nilsen and Brazilian Thiago Braz, the defending gold medalist.

Four left for three medals

That left four alive for medals: Duplantis, Nilsen, Braz and Renaud Lavillenie of France, a former world champion who first missed at 5.87 and then later passed at the height.

Duplantis cleared 5.92 with room to spare.

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Lavillenie missed twice at 5.92, eliminating him from medal contention. Braz could not clear 5.92 either and won the bronze based on a his 5.87 vault.

Nilsen, a three-time NCAA champion at South Dakota, made his second attempt at 5.92, then cleared a personal-best 5.97 on his first try. Duplantis answered by making 5.97 on his first try too, sending both to 6.02.

Armand "Mondo" Duplantis, a former Lafayette High and LSU pole vaulter representing Sweden, celebrates after winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

Nilsen missed his first attempt at 6.02. When Nilsen missed two more tries at 6.02, Duplantis clinched the gold and Nilsen took the silver medal.

The 2016 bronze medalist, American Sam Kendricks, did not compete in Tokyo because he tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Duplantis easily made it through qualification Saturday. He was one of 14 to advance to Tuesday's final after clearing 5.75.

Accomplished at LSU, Lafayette High

Duplantis set the world mark of 6.18 (20-2 ¾) indoors in February 2020 at a meet in Glasgow, Sweden. He broke his own record, set one week earlier in Poland.

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Former LSU and Lafayette High pole vaulter Armand "Mondo" Duplantis of Sweden competes Tuesday in the finals at the Tokyo Olympics, where he won gold.

He also set the world outdoor record at a meet in Rome in September 2020, clearing 6.15 to break Sergey Bubka’s  mark of 6.14 set in 1994.

Duplantis competed for LSU in 2019, when he was the NCAA indoor champion, the NCAA outdoor runner-up, the NCAA collegiate record holder outdoors and the SEC indoor and outdoor Field Athlete of the Year and Freshman of the Year.

He was the No. 1 Class of 2018 United States high school track and field recruit coming out of Lafayette High, where he was a seven-time Louisiana state champion and the United States indoor and outdoor high school record holder while also competing internationally for Sweden.

Duplantis, 21. spends time living in both Sweden, where he trains during the summer, and Louisiana.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Duplantis holds dual citizenship because his mother, Helena, a former heptathlete and volleyball player, is a native of Sweden. His father, Greg, is a former American pole vaulter.

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Duplantis conferred often with his father at the rail at Olympic Stadium throughout the finals.

“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," Duplantis said.