NAIROBI— For Swedish pole vaulter Armand “Mondo” Duplantis, the only goal when he steps forward to jump in his first Olympics in Tokyo is to win the gold medal.
Duplantis, 21, a world silver medalist, already holds the world record after he surpassed 6.17 meters in a World Athletics Indoor Tour meet in Torun, Poland, in February 2020 and improved it by one centimeter in Glasgow himself. month. .
He also boasts the highest outdoor pole vault when he rose 6.15m to win gold at the Diamond League meeting in Rome in September last year.
At the Tokyo Olympics, which begin next Friday, Duplantis told reporters this week that it was all about gold for him.
“Winning is the only goal,” he said. “In a dream world of course I’d like to go and break the world record and do something very legendary at the Games, but it’s my first Games and I just want to win, that’s really the only thing on my mind at the moment. . “
He will compete for gold against players like American Sam Kendricks, who retained his world title in Doha in 2019 and claimed an Olympic bronze five years ago.
However, Duplantis is heading to Japan in spectacular fashion.
At this month’s Diamond League event in Stockholm, Duplantis put on a show, clearing 6.02m to win in a competition record. He even tried 6.19m to try and break his world record when fans cheered for him, but he failed to get past that height.
However, unlike Stockholm, Duplantis must face racing without spectators in Japan.
Authorities have said the Olympics will be held without fans in the host city of Tokyo as it grapples with a resurgence of the coronavirus that forced them to declare a state of emergency in the capital that will extend throughout the Games. .
While jumping through 2020 without fans gave Duplantis an idea of what it was like to compete without support, he said it wasn’t easy to fully get used to.
“You don’t have the same spark when you’re jumping, you just don’t have the same adrenaline, you don’t have the same motivation,” he said.
“You know that the guy from the television is there and they are filming you, and there are people watching through the screen (of the television), you know that. But you don’t feel it, ”he added.
However, while nothing can replace jumping in front of live fans waving flags and clapping their hands, the big stage of the Olympics promises to offer enough motivation, he said.
“I mean it’s the Olympics, and it’s the most important competition that I’m going to compete in, so I think I’m going to have all the motivation I need,” added Duplantis.
It will be Duplantis’ first trip to Japan and he said he admired Japanese baseball players growing up.
“Three years ago, I bought a Shohei Ohtani jersey, this was even before he was in MLB (Major League Baseball),” he said referring to the Japanese baseball star known as ‘Shotime’.
“I was watching videos of him and I became a little obsessed with him because I thought the things he was doing were crazy. I was telling all my friends about him, saying he’s kind of like a new Babe Ruth. “
Duplantis was born in the US state of Louisiana, his father is former pole vaulter Greg Duplantis, but in 2015 he chose to compete for Sweden, where his mother Helena is from.
He played soccer and baseball as a child, but chose pole vaulting because it gave him “the best chance of getting to the top.” It has certainly fulfilled its potential, but winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics would be the icing on the cake.
Follow Inquirer Sports special coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics here.
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