Mondo Duplantis, the world record holder in the pole vault, chatted with Powerjournalist Markos Papadatos while quarantined during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Quarantine is all right,” he admitted. “I am trying to make the most of the situation, for sure.”
A few weeks ago, on May 3, Duplantis was a part of “The Ultimate Garden Clash,” where he competed alongside such world-class pole vaulters as Sam Kendricks and Renaud Lavillenie. Duplantis tied in first place with Lavillenie. “The event itself was super fun, though the tie was strange,” he said. “It was tough to find the motivation since there was nothing to look forward to competition-wise since everything was either canceled or postponed. That meant a lot. It was really fun.”
When asked how he stays motivated these days, Duplantis remarked, “It is a little difficult but at the same time, I am trying to be really positive and I just imagine that things will work out.”
Earlier this year, Duplantis broke the pole vault world record twice indoors, with clearances at 6.17 meters and 6.18 meters respectively. “That felt good,” he admitted. “I had a really good fall training leading to the winter season. I didn’t know if it was going to be a world record but I knew it was going to be something near that. I ended up breaking the world record and I felt really good jumping.”
He noted that his three previous attempts at 6.17 meters (the week prior) was a major “confidence booster.” “It felt like this was something I could do, and it made the world record seem like an achievable goal,” he said. “It was a nice feeling.”
Duplantis complimented Pawel Wojciechowski and Emmanuel “Manolo” Karalis for lifting him up following his first world record. “They were fired up as me, maybe even more,” he said. “They are two outstanding sportsmen, and they were fired up to see the world record. Karalis got injured that meet so he had to pull out, but he cheered me on. Every pole vaulter was so great to meet during that week. I love the brotherhood in pole vaulting.”
Ever-optimistic, Duplantis feels that he has the ability to break the world record again in the future. “I am saving that for an even better time, though I don’t know when that will be,” he said.
He is stoked to someday see the new Hayward Field stadium in Eugene, Oregon, where the 2022 World Championships will take place. “That will be super sweet. The pictures look super cool,” he said. “It’s a little sad since it was pretty historic what they had, but I think it will be really cool.”
Looking back, a “special” moment for Duplantis included winning his first IAAF Diamond League in Stockholm, Sweden. “That moment ranks in my top five moments in my career,” he said. “It made me feel that I can not only compete with the greatest pole vaulters, but I could compete against them as well, especially Sam Kendricks since at the time, he was pretty much unbeatable.”
He shared that he would love to someday partake in the Sam Kendricks Challenge No. 3, should that ever arise. “Whatever Sam Kendricks does, I will try to match it,” he said.
Duplantis offered the following inspiring message to people during this pandemic: “Positivity goes a long way. For me, whenever things don’t go my way (whether it’s jumping or just life in general), I always find something that makes me happy, and I try to remain positive. That’s what keeps me going during those days. I try to enjoy this time with my family and I try to stay inside and stay safe.”
He thanked his parents, his father and coach Greg and his mother and trainer, Helena, for all of their unconditional support. The 20-year-old world record holder defined success as having family and friend support. “This indoor season, my mother was there, and my father flew in for the last two meets. Success is not only achieving something for yourself but achieving something with the group of people that got you to that certain point: it’s not just my parents, it’s my two brothers and my sister, my entire family and my friends as well.”
“Success is becoming more and more about things I can achieve as a team, with my family and loved ones,” he added.
For his loyal fans, Duplantis concluded, “Growing up, as a little kid, I always wanted to be a pole vaulter, I wanted to win medals and I wanted to break the world record. That was always something I wanted to do even when I was young. I didn’t do pole vaulting for money or fame, I just found that niche and I wanted to be the best at it. The amount of respect I am getting these days and the number of fans that I have is overwhelming and flattering, especially since pole vault is this strange, unique event that I do. I have a big appreciation and it definitely helps me keep going, especially in times like this. I don’t know what the future hope, but a lot of people have a lot of hope in me and they want me to jump high. A lot of people are supporting me in me trying to be my best and that’s what keeps me going.”