Armand Duplantis at the IAAF World Youth Championships Cali 2015 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Series

My greatest challenge – Armand Duplantis

Swedish pole vaulter Armand Duplantis, who cleared a world U20 record of 5.90m last month, is one of the most prodigious teenage talents in athletics. Here the US-based 17-year-old chats about a dilemma he faced about which sport to pursue in his younger days.

A career-defining decision

“I started pole vaulting aged five (Duplantis’ father Greg was a 5.80m vaulter) but I also played and enjoyed baseball from a young age too. I remember at about the age of 13, pole vault was getting hard. It was getting tough, so because I enjoyed baseball, I played baseball for a whole summer and never touched a pole vault pole.

“I thought baseball was a great sport. It was unique, fun to play and I was fairly good at it. I played either shortstop or centre field. I played for a travelling club team.

“Yet I knew it was going to be hard for me to commit to both sports. Playing on the baseball team involved a lot of training. I couldn’t really continue to play two summer sports to a high level, so I had to decide whether to opt for pole vault or baseball.

“It was a difficult decision, but I decided to focus once more on pole vault because it was something I wanted to pursue and that was my future. Aged 14, I quit baseball to focus on pole vault and it has not been a decision I have regretted. Jumping 5.50m last year made me really believe pole vault was the right option.

“I still follow baseball closely today. I am a big fan of the Houston Astros and baseball is big in the Duplantis household through my brother Antoine, who plays college baseball, and who one day hopes to be a professional.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF