Armand Duplantis very nearly emulated his heroics from the European Championships in Berlin but the Swedish teenager missed out on the world title on the fifth day of competition at the IAAF World Athletics Championships by the most tantalising of margins.
Duplantis cleared each height on his first attempt in Berlin last summer but the 19-year-old had to rely on third attempt clearances at 5.92m and 5.97m to keep himself in the hunt for the title.
Reigning champion Sam Kendricks also had his difficulties during the final, requiring three attempts at 5.87m but a first-time clearance at the following height of 5.92m was the crucial attempt that separated the gold and silver medallists across the seven heights.
Buoyed by the chants of ‘Mondo’ from the sizeable Swedish contingent who were patriotically decked out in the colours of the national flag, Duplantis’ third attempt at 5.97m – he brushed the bar on the way down but his high point was far above it – suggested the next height of 6.02m which would have potentially displaced the American, who also cleared 5.97m on his third attempt, was within his grasp tonight.
Jumping before Kendricks in the vaulting order, Duplantis amassed three close but unsuccessful attempts at 6.02m which meant the world title remains in the American’s hands. “My back was really against the wall and I’m proud of the way I pulled it out with some clutch jumps,” said Duplantis.
“I can’t explain how you do it,” added the European champion on his back-to-back third time clearances. “I guess it takes experience and competing against these guys a lot. I’ve competed against these big guys for a couple of years now and without that experience I don’t think I would have done what I did today.”
Along with Poland’s Piotr Lisek who won bronze at 5.80m, the three medallists congratulated each other warmly on the pole vault mat and the camaraderie continued as the medallists further demonstrated their athletic prowess by treating an appreciative and engaged crowd on the top bend to a perfectly-timed synchronised somersault celebration.
Bronze in Beijing, silver in Doha over 800m for Tuka
There was one medal for the European contingent on the track courtesy of a resurgent Amel Tuka from Bosnia & Herzegovina who improved on his bronze medal from four years ago in the 800m.
Tuka put himself in a good position for a medal on the first lap and while Donavan Brazier from the United States struck out early and romped home to a championship record of 1:42.34, Tuka improved his position in the last 200 metres, overhauling the long-time leader Wesley Vasquez from Puerto Rico who took it out hard, passing halfway in 48.99.
Brazier was the main beneficiary as he also broke the long-standing national record while Tuka showed form which was redolent of his breakout season four years ago, setting the second fastest time of his career of 1:43.47 for the biggest medal of his career thus far.
“I have had some hard times, some health problems in the past and I am glad I managed to overcome them,” he said, “I came here to win a medal and I did it.”
Dina Asher-Smith won silver in the 100m final but the treble European champion looks poised to come away with a medal of a brighter hue in the 200m. The Brit was the fastest qualifier by three-tenths, winning the third semifinal in 22.16.
There will be added European representation in the final with Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji progressing automatically in 22.49 while veteran Ivet Lalova-Collio from Bulgaria made yet another major final in 22.58 – some 15 years after reaching the Olympic final in Athens.
European champion Justyna Swiety-Ersetic’s last World Championships campaign was curtailed by an ankle injury but the leading light of their Polish team progressed through to her first global individual senior final.
Competing for the third day in succession after contesting the inaugural mixed relay on the second day, Swiety-Ersetic rallied to a second-place finish in the third semifinal to qualify automatically in 50.96 – the third fastest time of her career.
She will be joined in the final by her long-time relay teammate Iga Baumgart-Witan who qualified on time courtesy of a lifetime best of 51.02 from the first semifinal.
Fajdek and Nowicki embellish Poland’s medal prospects with comfortable hammer qualification
The prospect of a Polish one-two in the men’s hammer has developed further in likelihood with European champion Wojciech Nowicki and three-time world champion Pawel Fajdek leading the two pools of qualifying with 77.89m and 79.24m respectively.
Ten of the twelve finalists in the men’s hammer are European and they include Ukraine’s reigning European U18 and U20 champion Myhaylo Kokhan. Only 18, Kokhan became the youngest ever athlete to reach a men’s field event final in IAAF World Championships history.
One night after Karsten Warholm successfully defended his title in the 400m hurdles, his training partner Amalie Iuel improved her Norwegian record to 54.72 to qualify second fastest for the semifinals behind Sydney McLaughlin from the United States in 54.45.
European champion Lea Sprunger from Switzerland also broke the 55 second-barrier for the first time this season, finishing second to McLaughlin in a season’s best of 54.98.
Reigning European indoor champion Gianmarco Tamberi put his recent injury woes behind him, clearing 2.29m to reach the high jump final. Russians Ilya Ivanyuk and Mikhail Akimenko – both of whom are competing as Authorised Neutral Athletes – amassed clear cards all the way up to 2.29m along with reigning champion Mutaz Essa Barshim from Qatar.
But former world and European champion Bogdan Bondarenko from Ukraine will not play any further part in the event. Bondarenko took one unsuccessful attempt at 2.17m before retiring from the competition with a knee injury.
“Even in the warm-up area I hoped to jump but during the approach of my first attempt, I understood the pain is too strong to even do one jump,” he said.
Steven Mills for European Athletics