The Swedish pole vaulter has already established himself as an athletics nice however his relentless pursuit of excellence continues to set him aside
When Mondo Duplantis stands on the finish of his run-up, he isn’t interested by medals. He’s interested by moments. Particularly, his thoughts is full of the sequence of small occasions which, when carried out accurately, add as much as the best second of all – that quick however oh so candy freefall again to earth after the bar has been cleared that indicators his job has been finished.
The 24-year-old AW Worldwide Male Athlete of the 12 months is unchallenged on the prime of his sport. He’s the Olympic pole vault champion and in 2023 gained his second consecutive world title throughout a season the place he broke his personal world file twice.
These are the headline stats, however there’s extra. In 2023, Duplantis gained 16 out of the 17 competitions he took half in. The proprietor of the highest eight vaults in historical past produced a mixed whole of 20 clearances of six metres (a fabled mark) or above, taking his profession tally to 74. As World Athletics factors out, meaning he alone accounts for 34 per cent of all of the six-metre clearances ever recorded.
The entire above underlines that, with Duplantis, you already know what you’re getting. It’s a reality which doesn’t at all times work to his benefit, although. One among sport’s best sights is its means to shock and shock so, when you’ve got somebody who’s actually head and shoulders (plus a part of his torso) above each else, there may be the potential for complacency to set in – not simply from the watching public however from the athlete himself.
Whenever you’ve gained every part there may be to win, what else is there left to do? His reply is straightforward. Get higher.
“If I’m solely interested by medals, I’m lacking the entire that means of what I’ve at all times been attempting to do,” he mentioned earlier this yr. “[That’s] attempting to push myself and push the limitations of what’s doable. I believe heights for me now are a very powerful factor. I actually need to see how excessive I can go.”
The reply, up to now, is 6.23m. That top arrived as a ultimate flourish to his aggressive yr, throughout the Diamond League ultimate at Hayward Area – the venue at which he had additionally damaged the world file when profitable his first outside world title in 2022. As troublesome as doing that has been, it’s evident there may be extra to come back, significantly given his mindset.
Duplantis is certainly one of a present crop of what sports activities psychologist Josephine Perry would time period as “tremendous elites” who every share a typical trait.
“What at all times impresses me about them is that they aren’t centered on profitable. In reality, profitable usually will get in the best way of their precise purpose, which is excellence. They’re usually extremely eager to be the very best at their sport, to grasp each approach, to be interested by enhancements and develop a deep understanding of the best way to maximise each transfer.
“They do all of the fundamentals – sleep, relaxation, restoration, diet and hydration – brilliantly and have turned these into habits after which give attention to the processes of acting at their finest.”
It’s the absence of give attention to victory which is the actual superpower, provides Perry.
“The athletes who’re all about ‘profitable’ can discover that as quickly as they’re able the place they won’t win, or are completely anticipated to win [as would be in Duplantis’ case] then every competitors can really feel very threatening.
“After we really feel menace we’ve got a powerful physiological response – elevated coronary heart fee, quicker respiratory fee, dodgy tummy, tight muscular tissues – which makes it a lot more durable to carry out nicely. After they see every competitors as an thrilling problem, as a result of they’re interested by what is feasible and so they have practiced the appropriate processes, then they may do significantly better. They’re able to give attention to themselves and their actions, not others and their judgments.”
Maybe it’s finest to listen to, then, from the person himself about how he does what he does.
“The entire leap is ready up from step one,” says Duplantis on redbull.com. “There’s a few issues I attempt to consider. I’m attempting to have a extremely explosive and highly effective push however I additionally don’t need to go too overboard with it since you need to have good posture. It’s arduous to clarify every part after that but it surely’s actually this rhythm. I’ve it in my head and I can really feel it on the runway when it’s proper.
“After I plant the pole, it hits the again of the field and I can really feel that influence. I form of simply react. You must put loads of stress on the pole. However then you definitely don’t lock your arms out for too lengthy since you then must tuck your arms in to get inverted on the pole.
“The inversion is loads of approach, loads of timing and likewise bodily power. I attempt to get the wrong way up as rapidly as I probably can and I attempt to be parallel with the pole – that’s while you get highest within the air. Getting over the bar is a really specific feeling. When you let go of the pole, you might be the place you might be so for those who’re excessive sufficient it may be good however, if not, there’s nothing you are able to do about it.
“You’re attempting to keep away from the bar, to maneuver your arms out of the best way and simply attempting to get your chest from hitting it on the best way down. You understand fairly quickly for those who’re going to recover from and if it’s a ‘make’ then you definitely get to calm down and simply benefit from the freefall.
“The run, the plant, the take-off – every part you do with the pole – it leads as much as that huge fall. I reside for these little, tiny moments. I can prepare for 5 years only for that half a second.”
» This text first appeared within the December difficulty of AW journal, which you possibly can learn right here