Sweden’s Armand Duplantis was a worthy winner of the boys’ pole vault on the final day of the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali on Sunday (19), his winning clearance of 5.30m a championship record which brought a vocal Colombian crowd to its feet in celebration.
With his victory, Duplantis, 15, showed that sporting greatness is sometimes in the genes; his father, Greg, who coaches him, was a 5.80m vaulter while his mother, Helena, is a former heptathlete.
In the end, Sunday’s final came down to a duel between Duplantis and Ukraine’s Vladyslav Malykhin, who also cleared 5.30m, but was beaten on countback.
Duplantis had a shaky start to the competition, knocking the bar at the relatively modest height of 5.00m, but once he righted himself for his second attempt and soared over, he always looked the most likely champion.
“After I made that,” he said, “it was a lot smoother.”
Duplantis cleared his next four heights – 5.10m, 5.20m, 5.25m and 5.30m – on his first attempt, which put him in the lead.
With bronze medallist Emmanouil Karalis of Greece bowing out with a best of 5.20m, having failed once at 5.25m and twice at 5.30m, only Malykhin stood between Duplantis and the gold medal.
With the Swede having cleared 5.30m – a personal best by two centimetres – on his first attempt and Malykhin on his second, the pressure was on the Ukrainian’s shoulders at 5.35m. He made three decent attempts, though none were enough to snatch the gold from Duplantis, who also bowed out at 5.35m.
“It’s great to have won the gold medal,” said Duplantis. “I expected a hard battle and I had it. I’m happy I had somebody to push me.
“I thought 5.25m might be good enough and when I cleared 5.30m, I thought that was going to win the gold, but he had good attempts at 5.35m. I’m capable of doing more, but this is fine.”
Despite missing out on gold on countback, silver medallist Malykhin was pleased with his performance; his 5.30m clearance was 30 centimetres higher than his previous best before coming to Cali.
“I am very happy with the silver medal,” he said. “I dedicate this to all the Ukrainians and the people who supported me.”
For the bronze medallist Karalis, finishing third exceeded his expectations and he also got his country's only medal of these championships. “I am so happy to be on the podium,” he said. “This bronze is like a gold for me.”
Cathal Dennehy for the IAAF