Armand Duplantis following in family's footsteps to LSU

Kevin Foote
The Daily Advertiser

In some ways, the decision Armand Duplantis faced when electing to become a college student-athlete at LSU or simply turn pro was quite complicated.

Lafayette High's Armand Duplantis, shown here talking strategy with his father and coach Greg, decided to follow his family's footsteps to LSU.

In the end, though, it was pretty easy.

It was actually a desire many years in the making.

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“I always wanted to go to LSU,” the Lafayette High senior pole vaulter extraordinaire said. “Everybody in my family went to LSU. It was definitely a thing growing up, you just kind of wanted to be a Tiger.”

His father and coach, Greg, was a pole vaulter at LSU. His mother, Helena, also was on LSU’s track and field squad in college from Sweden. One of his older brothers, Antoine, is currently a baseball player at LSU.

Of course, the layers of his decision went much further than family ties. Facilities for college and beyond went into play.

“When we went, it was a great facility and just a place that I could see myself succeeding,” Duplantis said. “I thought it was a best decision for a place to train and even be able to continue to train there after college with the great facilities there.”

Duplantis followed a spectacular junior season at Lafayette High with a busy summer that included finishing first in the U20 European Championships in Italy and a ninth-place finish at the World Championships in London.

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“For the most part, it went pretty well,” Duplantis said. “It’s always more difficult for me to go overseas and jump. I don’t know why. Maybe just a little out of your routine, but it’s always been a little bit (tougher) for me.”

As a world-class athlete on a quick path to being an Olympic athlete, it was a valuable learning experience.

“Every meet you learn something new about you as a jumper and mentally pole vaulting,” he said, “Especially being able to compete against the best pole vaulter in the world on the world stage. Getting a feel for the competition I’ll be going against a lot in the future.”

Duplantis also discovered the world’s best are willing to help a young star in the making as well.

“When we’re not jumping, we’re not really talking about our family or anything like that, but in between jumps, we’ll be talking about jumping,” Duplantis said. “They were completely helpful. It’s almost like having a second coach really. Sam Kendricks will say something to me if he saw something in my jump.

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“It was a pleasure to be able to compete against him for sure.”

While he got some seasoning and brushed up on his skills as a jumper, competing in the World Championships for the first time also made Duplantis even more hungry. His winning leap in Italy was 18.53 feet, while his effort in London was 18.04.

“This summer made me realize that I don’t just want to go to the Olympics,” said Duplantis, who competes for Sweden in international competition. “I want to go to the Olympics and get some hardware. I don’t want to just be an Olympian. I want to make a significant impact at the Olympics.”

Duplantis said it remains unclear what his schedule will be for the 2018 Lafayette High outdoor season, but he certainly expects to compete during the indoor season. He does still intend to long jump and run on a relay team.

Duplantis made an even bigger name for himself last year by ascending to 19-4.25 at the Texas Relays for a world-best mark.

He also set the national high school record of 18-4.75.

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