Sweden’s Armand “Mondo” Duplantis confirmed his status as the best pole vaulter in the world with a winning leap of 6.02 metres at Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The 21-year-old Duplantis was the only man to clear the height to land the title just a centimetre lower than the Olympic record Brazil’s Thiago Braz set in Rio 2016.
But Duplantis asked for the bar to be raised one centimetre higher than the world record he set in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2020. He came painstakingly close in his audacious attempt but could not scale the eye-watering height of 6.19m. Duplantis has been in superior form over the last two years, highlighted by his world-record leap of 6.18m.
Christopher Nilsen produced a lifetime best of 5.97m to claim the silver medal, with defending champion Braz taking bronze scaling 5.87m.
Having sealed his gold medal on a warm and humid night in Tokyo, Duplantis decided to go for another world record attempt at 6.19m, forcing the few hundred spectators at the Olympic Stadium to stay in their seats.
Cheered on by his fellow competitors from the final and those present in the stands, Duplantis went over on his first attempt but his chest caught the bar on the way down. He tried twice more but it was not to be.
“The world record would have been nice, and I felt like I was close, but it is what it is. I’m not going to sit here and complain,” he said.
He became the first world record holder to win Olympic gold in the men’s pole vault since Sergey Bubka in 1988 in Seoul.
American Chris Nilsen cleared the bar at 5.97 with his first attempt at the height to challenge for the gold but could not match Duplantis’s 6.02 effort and picked up the silver medal.
Brazil’s Thiago Braz, who won the title at his home Olympics in Rio de Janeiro five years ago, took bronze with his effort of 5.87.
It was a difficult night for Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist and silver winner in Rio.
Lavillenie sprained his ankle two weeks ago and had a hard time in the qualifying, failing in his first two attempts to clear 5.50m before regrouping to go through.
It did not get any better for him in the final, though, as he visibly struggled with the injury and could complete only one of his attempts at 5.70 to finish in eighth place.