Former LSU pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis was named the winner of the 2020 World Athletics Male Athlete of the Year award on Saturday morning.
Duplantis, who is 21 years old, becomes the youngest winner of this award. He won the award over Joshua Cheptegei (Uganda), Ryan Crouser (USA), Johannes Vetter (Germany), and Karsten Warholm (Norway).
“I just really wanted to go out there and show the world who I was,” Duplantis said on his mindset coming into the season that was supposed to be an Olympic year. “It was a strange season for everybody but I was able to stick with it and put together some pretty impressive results.
“I just try to go out there and jump high and break world records. Just going to keep giving it my all and whatever happens, happens. I’m so grateful for my support group that I have around me and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
It was a breakout year for Duplantis in 2020 where he went an unblemished 16-0 in competitions and broke both the world indoor and outdoor records in the pole vault.
He broke the world indoor record for the first time on with a 6.17-meter clearance on February 8 in Torun, Poland, at the Orlen Copernicus Cup. It broke Renaud Lavilennie’s previous world record of 6.16 meters that was set in 2014.
It was only a week later and he re-upped his world record by a centimeter with a clearance of 6.18 meters on February 15 at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow. The indoor season saw him compete five times and at each event he cleared six meters or higher.
Following a three and a half month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Duplantis returned to pole vaulting outdoors on June 11 at the Impossible Games in Oslo, Norway.
It wasn’t until August 14, his fourth meet outdoors in 2020, that he cleared the 6.00 meter barrier again. He went on to clear six meters three more times before he became the highest vaulter ever outdoors on September 17. He went up and over 6.15 meters at the Golden Gala Peitro Mennea meeting in Italy to break Surgey Bubka’s previous outdoor world record of 6.14 meters that dated all the way back to 1994.
Duplantis cleared 6.00 meters 14 times during his 2020 campaign in what is a sign to come as the young professional’s career is just getting started. He will enter 2021 as the Olympic favorite in the pole vault – he will represent Sweden at the Tokyo Olympics.
It was a grand day for the Duplantis family as a whole. His mom Helena and his father Greg, were given the Coaching Achievement Award. Helena and Greg serve as Mondo’s coaches and training advisors.
Mondo also was part of an award that was won by Renaud Lavillenie – the COVID Inspiration award. In the early stages of COVID-19 lockdowns, Lavillenie came up with the concept of the ‘Ultimate Garden Clash’. It was event that three pole vaulters – Lavillenie, Mondo, and Sam Kendricks – competed in remotely from their backyards. Mondo did so from his backyard in Lafayette, La.