03 May, 2020

Dead Heat In Pole Vault Ultimate Garden Clash

  • © World Athletics

The World Athletics pole vault Ultimate Garden Challenge ended in a dead heat on Sunday evening, with world record holder Mondo Duplantis and record Diamond League champion Renaud Lavillenie both clocking 36 clearances at five metres.

The one-off competition saw three of the world's finest pole vaulters go head-to-head in a border-spanning competition...from their own back yards. 

Jumping in Oxford, Mississippi, Sam Kendricks is the reigning Diamond League champion, two-time world champion and Olympic bronze medallist. 

From Clermont-Ferrand in central France, Renaud Lavillenie is the joint record champion in the Wanda Diamond League, with no less than seven Diamond Trophies to his name. Until just a few months ago, he was also the world record holder.

That title now belongs to 20-year-old Armand "Mondo" Duplantis, the Swedish-American superstar who twice broke the world record in February this year. 

The three of them were jumping in their very own pole vault pits at home - or in Duplantis' case, from his training base in Louisiana - to be crowned pole vault king of the lockdown. 

The format was simple: The bar will be fixed at 5.00 metres, and the winner will be the vaulter who makes the most clearances in 30 minutes of competition. 

For three athletes with a personal best of over six metres, five metres is child's play. But this was an endurance test, with mere seconds between each jump as each of them aimed to clear the bar as many times as possible. 

Minutes before the start of the competition, Lavillenie set a target of a clearance a minute, but both he and Duplantis went out hammer and tongs, notching up 17 and 18 respectively in the first half. 

World champion Kendricks ended up going for quality over quantity, repeatedly soaring over the bar by some distance but quickly losing pace. 

Meanwhile, Lavillenie and Duplantis kept going with extraordinary efficiency, both notching up their 36th clearance as the last seconds ticked away. 

"It's astounding that such a simple competition could come to be so complex," said a third-placed but characteristically gracious Kendricks. 

"36 jumps in 30 minutes. I challenge anyone on the whole planet to beat that. I respect the hell out of that," he added.

A sudden death tiebreaker was briefly mooted, with Duplantis hoping for an extra three minutes to edge ahead of his French rival.

But veteran Lavillenie, the mastermind of the whole event, called time with the scores tied, remarking very sensibly that he did not want to risk an injury. 

"We can say that I'm the first winner and Mondo is the second winner," quipped Lavillenie as Duplantis sailed over the bar once more to claim a 37th jump with time already up. 

"I will give you a re-run, Mondo!" he added.

You can re-watch the competition live on World Athletics YouTube page, or via the link below.