Within the space of a month, Armand Duplantis has thoroughly revised the record books. The reigning European champion, who only turned 20 during the off-season, broke the world record in the pole vault twice in the space of a week, taking the record up to the rarefied height of 6.18m in the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow.
He also cleared 6.00m or higher in each of his five competitions, becoming only the second pole vaulter in history to achieve this after Sergey Bubka in 1991. We take a look back at each of his five magnificent competitions over the last month.
Dusseldorf - 6.00m, 4 February
Competing for the first time since winning silver at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, Duplantis vaulted superbly on his season's debut in Dusseldorf. He cleared every height up until 6.00m convincingly and in a manner which suggested Renaud Lavillenie's world record of 6.16m was within his capacity at some point in the not too distant future. Duplantis very nearly achieved the unthinkable, surpassing that mark on his season's debut with an exceptionally close second attempt.
"I thought it was possible," he said. "That second attempt at 6.17m was as good as I could have expected. Training's been going really well. I feel very fit, very in shape. You don't think that everything's going to be put together in your first meeting just because you're physically fit. But it came together. It came together nicely, it came together at a good time."
Torun - 6.17m, 8 February
After an exceedingly close attempt at 6.17m in Dusseldorf four days prior, Duplantis skied over that mark at the Copernicus Cup in Torun, the host city of the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships. He described breaking the world record as a lifelong ambition and he achieved it in front of a capacity crowd which included his mother Helena who has been so influential in Duplantis' young but illustrious career.
“Ever since I started vaulting in my backyard, when I was in diapers, I wanted to be the best that's ever lived – to break the world record. I don’t know how to explain the feeling, it’s something I have been shooting for since I was three years old,” he said.
“There's no secret to it. It's a lot of hard work and everything I do in practice and in my entire life builds up to this one moment. There are so many people to thank – my mum and dad and my coaches right now – my mum is in the crowd to witness this special moment not only for me but also for my family."
Glasgow - 6.18m, 15 February
Yet another Saturday and yet another world record for Duplantis and in the most nonchalant manner as well. Duplantis stepped onto the runway amid a technical delay to the start of the women's 400m, glanced up at the bar which was perched at a head-spinning 6.18m before propelling himself to his second world record of the indoor season, this time on his first attempt.
“I felt like I was over it and once I was going over I knew I had it,” he said. “You can’t tell how far away you are from the bar but it felt like a good jump from the get-go. I tried a stiffer pole and it worked out. It’s the best little split second. Everything builds up to that little split second and the freefall was magical."
Lievin - 6.07m, 19 February
The manner in which Duplantis cleared 6.18m in Glasgow on Saturday was such that a full house in Lievin arrived with the expectation of seeing a further revision to the world record. Duplantis soared over 6.07m but the height of 6.19m proved slightly more stubborn for Duplantis who was quick to remind everyone that only four days had passed since Glasgow.
“I did 6.07m and that was a great jump,” he said. “But after that I felt my legs abandoned me a little bit and I didn’t have quite the same speed in my approach. Out of my three tries at 6.19m, I think my second attempt was the closest but I think that I lost speed. I feel quite tired; Glasgow was only a few days ago.”
Clermont-Ferrand - 6.01m, 23 February
Duplantis rounded off his indoor campaign with his fifth successive victory and his fifth competition at six metres or higher to match Sergey Bubka who also amassed five successive 6.00m-plus vaults in 1991.
“I cannot be disappointed not to break the world record today. Obviously I hoped to beat it again but I finish the winter with two world records and that is already very significant. When you want to break a record, your jump must be perfect. Here I had some very good vaults but I was missing a little something.”