© Adam Klingeteg
Meet Armand Duplantis: the record-breaking star of global athletics
Swedish-American pole vaulter Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis is taking the sport to new heights by raising the bar and breaking his own world records.
Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis has taken the world by storm, bringing pole vaulting into the homes of even casual sports fans. At just 23, the Swedish-American superstar has already made history by breaking the world record multiple times, as well as vaulting six metres or higher more times than any other athlete before him. Still looking towards new heights, Duplantis is just getting started.
Keep reading to find out how his obsession with the unique and challenging sport of pole vaulting started, and how he’s been stacking up impressive results from as early as seven years old.
Watch Duplantis perform together with 10 of the world's best pole vaulters at Mondo Classic live on Red Bull TV on February 2.
Mondo’s pole vaulting is a family affair
That Duplantis has reached such heady heights at such a young age should perhaps not come as a surprise to those that have been following his journey. Pole vaulting is in many ways part of his DNA with his American dad Greg a talented pole vaulter himself and his Swedish mum Helena a former heptathlete. With a pole vaulting set-up in the back garden of their home in Lafayette, Louisiana, Mondo was only three years old when he first tried his hand at the sport.
Most kids had basketball nets in the backyard. We had a pole vault setup. That made us pretty unique
With a deep love and fascination for the sport, Duplantis quickly took to it and under the watchful eye of his dad, who’s still his coach today, it became clear that the young pole vaulter possessed a natural talent. Together with help from his mum, coaching him in fitness and strength, his career quickly become a family affair. Duplantis set his first age group world best at the age of seven and proceeded to break the record in his age group the following six years.
An incredibly complex sport, athletes are required to push off the ground, only to twist and turn upside down in order to fly over the bar and then free-fall down to the mat. It’s a technique that takes years to master and it requires a sense of fearlessness. Young Duplantis spent hours watching videos of his heroes – with his favourite being Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie, a graceful pole vaulter who held the world record between 2014 and 2020.
Check out Mondo's backyard set-up in the video below:
Red Bull Backyards – Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis
Take a trip to Lafayette, Louisiana, USA to the backyard of world record pole vaulter, Armand 'Mondo' Duplantis.
During his childhood, the family often spent their summers in Sweden but that didn’t stop Duplantis from continuing to train and compete. Realising just how big track and field is in the European nation – with Sweden hosting numerous competitions that are televised nationwide – Mondo chose to represent the country. “In Sweden, a track and field stadium is as common as a football or baseball field in the USA,” he says.
Still in high school and living in Lafayette, he began to spend more time in Sweden. He joined the local track and field club, Upsala IF, and started perfecting his Swedish language skills. Dedicating himself to his Swedish heritage quickly gained him bonus points among the Swedes and his popularity began to skyrocket.
Taking his career to the next level
It’s pretty clear that Duplantis has never been the dark horse or the underdog. At junior level he won the 2015 World Youth Championships, the 2017 European Junior Championships and the 2018 World Junior Championships. By the time he stepped up into the elite ranks, everyone in pole vaulting knew who he was.
That kind of reputation, as exciting as it is, comes with a lot of pressure. Competing at his first-ever elite World Championships in London in 2017 was a tough lesson that things don’t always go to plan. But learning to accept defeat is just as important as a win for an athlete, so Duplantis picked himself back up and came back stronger.
In the following years, he racked up positive results as well as gained valuable experiences, including winning the 2018 European Championships with a jump of 6.05m – the joint fifth highest jump in history.
A record-breaking year
2020 was the year that Duplantis found the final pieces to his puzzle. Right at the start of the season, on February 8 in Toruń, Poland, he cleared the remarkable height of 6.17m and broke the almost six-year-old world record held by his childhood idol Lavillenie. It was a feat that he’d worked his entire life towards.
It’s something I’ve wanted since I was three years old
Once it clicked for Duplantis, he became unstoppable. It only took a week until his next great feat. On February 15 in Glasgow, Scotland, he sailed over 6.18m and broke his own world record. Then, in September in Rome, Italy, he broke legendary pole vaulter Sergey Bubka’s 1994 outdoor world best of 6.14m by jumping 6.15m. “I hit the mat but I haven’t really fallen back to earth," Duplantis said moments after his jump.
Holding all the titles
Since his incredible 2020 season, Duplantis has become a household name not just in Sweden, but around the world. In 2022, he cemented his role in history by once again beating his own world record – not once, but three times. He started the season by clearing the height of 6.19m in Belgrade, Serbia; followed it up by sailing over 6.20m a week later at the World Athletics Indoor Championships; and finally soared over 6.21m - with room to spare - at the World Championship in Eugene, Oregon, USA.
With his win at the World Championships in Eugene, Duplantis has now won all the biggest titles in the sport. On top of that, his record-breaking 2022 season saw him vault six metres or higher a staggering 22 times. It means that the 23-year-old has more six-metre clearances than any other pole vaulter in history.
Behind all the world records and titles is of course a lot of hard work. The two-time World Athlete of the Year (2020 and 2022) still remains humble and never seems to take any win for granted. As for what the future holds, there are surely more records to come.
As Duplantis himself puts it: “I just try to go out there, I try to jump high, I try to break records and I try to just keep improving.”