Duplantis confident of new world record despite Brussels blip

Brussels (AFP) –


Armand Duplantis was kept waiting a long time in Brussels as he failed in another bid to better his own world record of 6.18 metres, but the Swede is confident he will add at least another centimetre to the mark.

As a slight chill settled in at the King Baudouin stadium on Friday, Duplantis was forced to don his tracksuit as technical officials struggled to raise the bar.

All other disciplines at the Diamond League meeting had finished and the post-event DJs and firework technicians were kept waiting patiently in the wings for their moment of stardom.

The track em-cee did his best to keep the raucous 28,000-strong crowd on their toes and eventually the bar was raised so that Duplantis could line himself up, ready to launch down the runway.

Speaking before the meet, Duplantis had said an almost perfect combination of proper competition, good weather and a supportive crowd were needed for a new world record to be set.

The stars surely aligned in the Belgian capital, but the technical problems worked against the 21-year-old in his bid to produce that final record-setting vault.

"I could not ask for better conditions. It was hot enough, there was no wind, all perfect," he said. "It was just up to me.

"The crowd was unreal. I haven't had such an amazing atmosphere during the competition in a really long time.

"All eyes were on me when I attacked the world record. It is still a special feeling, really cool."

Duplantis, known by his nickname "Mondo", set the current world record of 6.18m indoors in Glasgow last year, before going on to set a world outdoor best of 6.15m in Rome, finally eclipsing the 1994 mark set by all-time great Sergey Bubka.

For his rivals, it is simply a question of playing catch-up. His closest rival in Friday's field was American Christopher Nilsen, who vaulted 5.97m to win silver in Tokyo and again finished second in Brussels.

- A game of centimetres -

First up for Duplantis, he wins the competition, regularly with a 6m-plus vault. This time around it was a meet record of 6.05m.

It is important to remember that there is a very small club of pole vaulters who have even gone over that mythical height.

Only 16 have in the history of vaulting, and many of those are now retired from the sport.

Duplantis now routinely goes for a new world record once victory is wrapped up -- as he did in the Olympic final, the bar raised immediately from the winning height to a towering 6.19m.

His three attempts at that height are nail-biting affairs.

In Brussels, Queen's "We will rock you" boomed over the tannoy as the crowd, to a person on their feet, sang along and clapped in unison as Duplantis readied himself for the first vault.

Groans of oohs and aahs greeted the sight of the Swede clipping the bar and bringing it down with him onto the mat.

The same drama unfolded twice more as he each time regathered the pole and retreated to focus on a second, and then third, attempt.

"I felt good," he said of his evening's vaulting. "I was really close to the world record. That height demands perfection out of you.

"The last two efforts were really not bad. It is a game of centimetres and today I lost the game, but one of these days I am going to take it. That's for sure."