Tokyo, Japan – Mondo Duplantis, the 21-year old phenom that was born to fly, won his first Olympic gold medal on Tuesday (August 3) at the Tokyo Olympics with a clearance of 19’ 9” (6.02 meters) in the pole vault.
Duplantis is the eighth athlete in LSU track and field history to win a gold medal at the Olympics joining the likes of Glenn ‘Slats’ Hardin (1936/400 hurdles), Sheila Echols (1988/4x100m Relay), Esther Jones (1992/4x100m Relay), Glenroy Gilbert (1996/4x100m Relay), Derrick Brew (2004/4x400m Relay), Kelly Willie (2004/4x400m Relay), and Richard Thompson (2008/4x100m Relay). While he’s the eighth track and field athlete to win gold, he’s only the second to win an individual gold medal joining the likes of the legendary Glenn Hardin.
Duplantis had achieved many things coming into these Olympics – the world record, European gold, a world medal – but he had never won a gold medal on the senior level at a world meet, but that all changed Tuesday. Duplantis entered with a massive clearance of 18’ 2.50” (5.55 meters) before passing at a height of 18’ 8.25” (5.70 meters). He then cleared a bar of 19’ 0.25” (5.80 meters) and was one of only eight competitors remaining.
Duplantis elected to pass at a height of 19’ 3” (5.87 meters) before the bar moved up to 19’ 5” (5.92 meters). When the bar moved to 19’ 5” only four competitors remained. Duplantis cleared the bar with ease at the height of 19’ 5”, and Chris Nilsen (USA) was the only other vaulter to clear 19’ 5”. So it was the two of them battling it out for gold.
The bar moved up to 19’ 7” (5.97 meters) where both Duplantis and Nilsen got up and over the bar on their first attempts. This was a familiar scene as these two were the final two competitors at the 2019 NCAA outdoor meet where Nilsen actually beat Mondo, but this was a different day. As the bar went up to 19’ 9” (6.02 meters), Mondo cleared the bar with a scintillating clearance with much more room, while Nilsen was unable to get over in three tries. The height of 19’ 9” was the bar that won Mondo the Olympic gold.
After securing the gold, Mondo moved the bar up to 20’ 3.75” (6.19 meters) with hopes of breaking his own world record of 20’ 3.25” (6.18 meters) and setting the Olympic record. His first attempt at the height had tremendous hip height and he cleared it easily, but his chest grazed the bar on the way down and it fell off. Attempt No. 2 saw him bail out after entering the air, and the third try was another admirable attempt but it was not meant to be.
(Release via LSU Athletics)