Duplantis pushed to new heights by sibling rivalry and family coaching

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Paris (AFP)- Armand Duplantis, already sure of his place in pole vault history, flew even higher on Monday by beating his own world record with a leap of 6.19m in Belgrade.

The 22-year-old American-born Swede known as “Mondo” was born and raised in Louisiana. His gold medal in Tokyo last year cemented his status in a sport that has strived for quality since the retirement of Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt in 2017.

His exuberant celebrations and looks straight out of a romantic teen movie, a genre he loves, mean he fits the bill.

Duplantis is the product of a sports-obsessed family who own their own jumping device in their Louisiana backyard.

His American father, Greg, a former pole vaulter (who cleared 5.80 m), supervises his technique. His Swedish mother, Helena, a former heptathlete and volleyball player, supervises his physical preparation.

His older brother Andreas jumped for Sweden at various age group championships, while another brother Antoine gave up pole vaulting in favor of baseball and is part of the New York Mets minor league system. .

Armand spent his summers with his Swedish grandparents.

He started pole vaulting, which requires the speed and strength of a sprinter and the flexibility of a gymnast, when he was four.

He announced his talent when he cleared 5.90m at just 17 years old at the Texas Relays in Austin in 2017.

He turned pro in 2019 after a season on a scholarship to Louisiana State University.

His parents are trying to balance sports with a normal family life

“All dads teach sports to children, but not at a professional level,” Brennan Robideaux, director of a feature documentary on Duplantis, “Born to Fly,” told AFP.

“They change easily. When it’s time to be the coach they do, but when it’s time to watch a movie, he’s a parent-child in his own right. Very good balance and dynamic. It doesn’t was never an energetic and crazy relationship, like ‘you’re going to do this’. They let their children discover what they do best.”

The brothers also played an important role in Armand’s development.

“They’re an interesting group. As close as brothers could be. Extremely competitive. In all areas,” says Robideaux, a family friend who has followed Duplantis since he was 17.

“Mondo wouldn’t be as good as he is if he didn’t have his two older brothers pushing hard. Mondo had this fierce competitive nature as a kid.”

“His brothers are older so obviously they jumped higher than him, but Mondo wouldn’t accept that.”

– ‘Break into the mainstream’ –

Mondo quickly became the best outfielder of the three.

“When he was 12, he played in his garden to imitate the different jumpers and their styles, and as a child he felt his body perfectly with the pole,” said Damien Inocencio, the former coach of former French Olympic champion Renaud. . Lavillenie and a longtime friend of the Duplantis family, told AFP.

Robideaux says old family videos show Duplantis was an energetic kid.

Armand Duplantis established himself as a face of athletics when he won gold in Tokyo Ben STANSALL AFP/File

“He’s still hyperactive,” Robideaux said. “It was just 10 times more when he was a kid. If he was sad he was bawling his eyes, if he was happy he was jumping around, he was like a cartoon character. He’s still a very overactive and horny who has learned to handle it.”

Robideaux says Duplantis could be what athletics need in the United States.

“We have so many other sports in the United States before athletics. If anyone wants to get out of athletics, bring it into the mainstream, it’s going to be Mondo.”

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