He may be in the early stages of his pole vault career, but Armand “Mondo” Duplantis has already scaled the summit of his sport with two world record jumps.
The Swede broke his own world record in February, first jumping 6.17 meters in Poland before clearing 6.18 in Scotland the following weekend.
That was three months after his 20th birthday and five months before he was due to jump at the Olympics for the first time.
The coronavirus outbreak has shelved his Olympic aspirations for now, the postponement coming shortly after headlines had heralded him as the next Usain Bolt and tipped him to light up Tokyo.
But for Duplantis, who started pole vaulting at the age of three in his parents’ backyard in Louisiana, writing his name into the sport’s record books has always been the dream.
“When I first started pole vaulting, I had big aspirations. I wanted to be the best to ever live and I always wanted to break the world record,” he tells CNN Sport.
“I always thought that I was capable of it, too. I was pretty confident in my abilities, but I wasn’t sure that it would come as soon as it did … It’s hard to believe sometimes that I am the world record holder.”
Duplantis attributes much of his current success to having access to a pole vault set up from such a young age. While many athletes don’t take up the sport until high school, at that point he had already spent years honing his technique.
“It was everything for me,” he says.
“You get this base for an event that I got at such a young age. When I was eight or nine years old, I was already starting to really figure out the event.
“I had a really big head-start on everybody, you could say. Without the whole set up in my backyard, who knows where I would be today?”