Lausanne Diamond League:
Sweden rules in pole vault event
Mondo Duplantis photo: Oreste di Cristiano 
Angelica Bengtsson photo: Instagram
Photo edition: Silvia Rueda Lozano

During the press conference a few days ago, Sam Kendricks appeared at Mondo Duplantis’s conference to ask him some questions. They got into a discussion of why they are two of the athletes most in-demand right now. It is because they give the audience a great show. “Us having fun is bad for the sport?”, asked Sam to the Swede. Mondo assumed he was referring to the fact they have now “too much attention” on them and the American emphasized again that Athletissima, one of the oldest and most important competitions, was giving all the attention to pole vault this season. “I was a pole vaulter before I walk. To see meetings like Lausanne having only pole vault, that’s pretty cool”, concluded Mondo.

It is a fact that pole vault is back in the spotlight nowadays. Athletics sport is this kind of rollercoaster that, depending on the athlete, there is a time for each event. When Carl Lewis was on the sandpit, the media focus was on the Long Jump event; or when Usain Bolt was on the track, the focus was on the 100 meters event. Pole vault is being up and down during seasons – the last top moment for pole vaulting was maybe when Isinbayéva and Lavillenie were in their bests point of their careers – but, this season, is undeniable that pole vault is back on the top. And this just thanks to pole vaulters like Duplantis, Kendricks, or Bengtsson.

Last September, 2nd, Athletissima took out from the stadium of Lausanne to Place de L’Europe a double pole vault event that turned out to be one of the most important of the season (or even these last years). Women and men jumped during a full three-hours event giving to the audience on the square and around the world a great competition.

The pole vault women event ended up first with former European bronze medalist, Angelica Bengtsson, winning the competition. The Swede jumper was the only athlete who could pass the bar set at 4.72. At that time, Bengtsson was just competing against national Swede record holder Michaela Meijer and double European medalist, Holly Bradshaw. Meijer was hesitating too much at her attempts that evening. Bradshaw, who was the last athlete to start the competition, passed the bar at the first attempt the two first heights, but 4.72 was enough for her.

The hallway was all for Bengtsson, who decided to put the bar up to 4.84, one centimeter more to break the Swede national record and to get the title back to her possessions. However, Angelica Bengtsson’s three attempts were failed. The Swede ran harder than usual on the hallway not getting the right timing to jump and, in consequence, falling short. Nevertheless, Bengtsson crowned as the champion of Athletissima’s event.

Angelica Bengtsson at Lausanne | Photo: Laurent Gillieron
Angelica Bengtsson at Lausanne | Photo: Laurent Gillieron

At the same time women were competing, men were doing the same thing on their couch. Pole vault men lasted more time than women, something expected as until 5.72, none of the nine athletes were retired. The competition for them started at 5.32, with Frenchman Thibaut Collet failing the first jump of the event. However, the young athlete set a new PB that evening jumping 5.62. At 5.52, Italian Claudio Stecchi, Olympic champion Thiago Braz and Renaud Lavillenie appeared in the hallway. The Frenchman and former world record holder was making his first appearance of the season after his thumb surgery, and, at the event, he hold on until 5.82, as Braz did.

As Brazilian and Frenchman were eliminated, the competition was again on Kendricks and Duplantis's hands.  

During the whole competition, only Kendricks had one attempt failed. He started at 5.32, and, at 5.62, it seemed he was going to struggle for the rest of the event, but, at the second attempt, he gapped enough.

Sam Kendricks at Lausanne | Photo: Instagram sebboue
Sam Kendricks at Lausanne | Photo: Instagram sebboue

On the other hand, at the same height, Duplantis opened his competition with his usual flight above the bar. However, the young prodigy is transparent, and his face was telling to the audience that he was not comfortable with his performance. Everybody knows the Swede is a perfectionist on what he does, so, he decided to save himself to higher heights. At 5.82 jump, Mondo Duplantis stole a “wow” from the crowd: the boy was flying again.

Once Sam and Mondo were all alone, the show started. 5.87, 5.92, and 5.97 were just like going for a walk for them. No pressure, just fun. And when the bar was set at 6.02, the emotion was added to the competition. Both passed the bar: Kendricks full of happiness and Duplantis screamed relieved. They were setting a new season-best. As in Doha but higher, both were having fun like children but, at the same time, they were competing and challenging each other.

6.07 was the deciding measure to end the competition. The double world champion Sam Kendricks never went on this high. He tried, but three times he finished at the top of the pole and he couldn’t pass the bar. However, the European champion, Mondo Duplantis, was on fire. He set a new personal best and a new Diamond League record passing the bar at the first attempt. He could not believe that the bar was standing there. He got up from the couch and look at it with an "unbelievable" face expression. Once again, Armand Duplantis was crowned as the winner of the competition.

The pole vault men event finished with him trying again his goal for this season. After breaking the world record twice at the indoor season this year, Mondo Duplantis has been trying in each outdoor meeting to jump higher than Sergey Bubka did more than twenty years ago. So, he put the bar up to 6.15, one centimeter more than Bubka’s outdoor achievement, and tried once. However, night had fallen on Lausanne and it was too dark to try to break another world record, so Mondo Duplantis decided to end up there.

It is a fact that pole vault is living its best time. The pole vault women event has athletes like Angelica Bengtsson, Michaela Meijer, or Holly Bradshaw to give a great competition to the audience. But, pole vault men event knows that its good time is going to last for a while with Sam Kendricks on the top and Mondo Duplantis’s career just starting on the top too. Enjoy the flights, ladies and gentlemen. Pole vault is going to be in the spotlight for a long time.