Much of the world may be in lockdown, but with the use of modern technology, some of the greatest athletes on the planet will compete against one another on Sunday 3 May in the Ultimate Garden Clash – Pole Vault Edition.
World record-holder Mondo Duplantis of Sweden, two-time world champion Sam Kendricks of the USA and 2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie of France will be connected via a live video link as they compete from the comfort and safety of their own back gardens in a unique competition for the ages.
Streamed on the World Athletics YouTube, Twitter and Facebook pages, the competition will be held on Sunday between 5-6pm CEST – weather permitting – and will span three locations; Lavillenie will vault from his home in Clermont-Ferrand, Kendricks will compete from his back garden in Oxford, Mississippi, and Duplantis will take part from his base in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Instead of a contest to clear the maximum height – which would be difficult with a lack of officials to move the bar up and adjust standards – the three athletes worked together to devise their own competition format. They will attempt to vault 5.00m as many times as they can within 30 minutes.
It will be a test of technique, consistency, concentration and stamina – all qualities that are required in a normal pole vault competition, just measured in an alternative way.
"I'm ecstatic to be able to compete again, especially against Sam and Renaud," said Duplantis. "Since it's unknown what other competitions we will all have together, we definitely are going to enjoy this and have a good time with it. Also, winning this is crucial because I don't like losing to them very much."
"This is a superb opportunity to see the best jumpers in a new competition format showing their love for their sport with a competition when most other sports are off," added Lavillenie. "And because we are all at home, we have no excuses to miss this international home competition."
Kendricks said: "Because it’s a unique style of competing, I think we will all be learning as we go. No matter how precise and accurate we are, I think the challenge is we don’t know what it will take to win, so it will be hard to gauge our effort. I know that it doesn’t matter what we are doing together. We each want to win."
World Athletics is exploring the possibility of holding other Ultimate Garden Clash competitions in the coming weeks.