Armand Duplantis narrowly missed a third consecutive world pole vault record in the space of 12 days as he came tantalisingly close to clearing 6.19m at the Meeting Hauts-de-France Pas-de-Calais in Lievin, France, the sixth stop of the World Athletics Indoor Tour, on Wednesday (19).
Close – but no cigar this time for the prodigiously talented 20-year-old, who had to content himself with a “warm-up” clearance of 6.07m and, perhaps, a faint feeling of relief. As he has said this week, he is only human.
The pattern of competition was identical to his two previous outings, when he cleared 6.17m in Torun on 8 February and, on Saturday, 6.18m in Glasgow. On all three occasions he despatched all opposition early – although double world champion Sam Kendricks doggedly cleared 5.90m at his third attempt tonight – before starting his own private competition with the bar.
His first attempt raised the roof – but felled the bar.
Before his second attempt he roused the crowd. This time he got over, but bent the bar down, and it bounced back up and…off.
He looked a little deflated as he trod the landing pad. But the bar went up for a third time.
It was too much to ask on the night, however, as he dropped away without passing the bar before standing to applaud those rightly applauding him.
As Duplantis had contemplated his third attempt at the world record, across the crowded infield Sandi Morris, the world indoor champion, having also won her competition, was making what would be a close but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to equal the world indoor record of 5.03 held by fellow American Jen Suhr.
She had to settle for victory with a clearance of 4.83m.
Afterwards, Duplantis agreed with the proposition put to him that breaking world records was not easy.
“You said it,” he told the infield announcer. “It’s not. But this event is really special. Look left – a world record attempt. Look right – a world record attempt. That’s really special. I don’t think sport will ever have such a situation again.”
Duplantis also thanked the crowd: “I really felt the crowd’s energy. I really appreciated the support.”
Inevitably Duplantis was the last to be introduced to the packed crowd – all 5000 expected guests appeared to have turned up – and the roar was appreciably up, even on that given for the previous introducee, double world champion Kendricks, who eventually finished second after a third-time clearance at 5.90m.
Zango triples 17.51m
Hugues Fabrice Zango, world triple jump bronze medallist from Burkina Faso, had hoped to offer a world indoor record to his alternative home crowd – he spends winters here and is studying for a PhD in electrical engineering at university in Lille.
He jumped 17.77m earlier this month in Paris, putting himself equal fourth on the world indoor all-time list and just 15 centimetres shy of the world indoor record held by his coach, Teddy Tamgho, whose meeting record of 17.64m, set in 2011, looks well within his capability.
Zango’s performance line described a steady upward curve as he started with 17.03m, rising to 17.25m, 17.34m and 17.51m. He was heading closer – but could only show his frustration as he produced two final fouls. Watching from the stand, Tamgho looked more philosophical.
Nazim Babayev of Azerbaijan was a distant second with 17.15m.
Bekh-Romanchuk sails to victory again, secures tour title
By contrast women’s long jump was a more competitive affair which ended with Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk of Belarus confirming her status as overall Tour winner in emphatic fashion as she won with a last round effort of 6.90m – the fourth best achieved this season – to move ahead of Ese Brume of Nigeria, whose best was 6.82.
Third place went to Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova, the European indoor silver medallist, who reached 6.59m.
Baker’s momentum continues, Bass upsets Ahoure
Ronnie Baker, a winner in Glasgow in his first 2020 tilt at the World Indoor Tour, looked in a different class as he won his men’s 60m heat in 6.49, thus moving to joint second in this season’s rankings behind the 6.37 run by fellow American Christian Coleman on Saturday.
He improved that to 6.44, a meeting record, in the final, where he was followed home by compatriot Derek Kemp in 6.50 and Slovakia’s Jan Volko in 6.57.
In the women's non-scoring race, Ivory Coast’s world indoor champion Murielle Ahoure, beaten by world 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in her season’s debut at Glasgow, suffered a second successive defeat here to Gambia’s Gina Bass who improved to 7.11 – the fourth fastest run this year.
Ahoure was second in 7.12 with Switzerland’s Ajla Del Ponte claiming third place in 7.26.
800m wins for Kipruto and Reekie
Collins Kipruto won the men’s 800m in 1:46.34se from fellow Kenyan Cornelius Tuwei, who clocked 1:46.74. But the stadium was still reverberating with the pile up that had occurred 15 metres after the bell as these two leaders were challenged by a group including Poland’s Adam Kszczot, who had been seeking to confirm a third consecutive overall 800m title here.
The Pole hit the deck, along with Belgium’s Elliott Crestan and Germany’s Marc Reuther, although the latter, despite a grazed shoulder, picked himself up to finish sixth.
After gesturing angrily, the Pole jogged to the finish, where he spoke heatedly to the meeting organiser and then jabbed his finger accusingly at the German – who didn’t appear ready to accept any blame.
The women’s 800m saw Britain’s Jemma Reekie, winner of the 1500m at Saturday’s Tour event in Glasgow, earn another outstanding victory as she defeated a field that included a powerful clutch of Ethiopian runners and Uganda’s world outdoor champion, Halima Nakaayi.
As the final pacemaker peeled away shortly before the bell, Reekie had established a 10 metres lead which she improved in the final straight to win in 2:00.34. The world champion had recognised the danger in the back straight, but despite moving up the field she ran out of track and finished second in 2:01.96 with third place going to Ethiopia’s Habitam Alemu in 2:02.04.
Ethiopia’s 20-year-old world indoor 1500m champion Samuel Tefera, who set a world indoor record of 3:31.04 last year, controlled his race to win in 3:35.54 – a 2020 world best. He was chased home by Spain’s Jesus Gomez, who clocked 3:36.68 – with Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski finishing third in 3:38.10.
Ethiopia’s world bronze medallist Gudaf Tsegay won the women’s 1500m in 4min 00.60 from compatriots Lemlem Hailu and Axumawit Embaye, who clocked 4:01.57 and 4:03.83 respectively.
Selemon Barega’s ambition of running 7:30 for the men’s 3000m fell narrowly short, although the world 5000m silver medallist gave it everything before finishing in 7:33.19. But he was beaten to the line by fellow Ethiopian Getnet Wale, who had taken over his lead with 400m to go and withstood the 20-year-old’s huge final effort to get back on terms. The winner’s time of 7:32.80 was the fastest indoors in seven years.
Third place went to Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew in 7:34.58.
Ali edges Clemons
World champion Nia Ali, beaten by thousandths of a second in Saturday’s meeting at Glasgow, got the winning feeling again by a similar margin as she took the 60m hurdles ahead of fellow American Christina Clemons, with both being credited with 7.92sec.
Home runner Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, the 2018 European champion and world bronze medallist, looked back to his bright self as he won the men’s 60m hurdles in 7.47 – the second fastest run this year behind the 7.38 clocked by world champion Grant Holloway of the US.
Spain’s Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega had to settle for third place in 7.56 as second spot went to Kuwait’s Yaqoub-Mohamed Al Youha in 7.54.
Elsewhere, the rarely-run women’s 2000m steeplechase title went to Slovenia’s Marusa Mismas, who tracked Winfred-Mutile Yavi of Bahrain through the second half of the race before bursting into the lead on the final back straight after accelerating over the hurdle halfway down as her opponent stuttered. She won in 5:47.79.
The evening finished with a flourish as 2017 world 800m champion Pierre-Ambroise Bosse, who runs for the nearby Lille club, held on to win the 1000m in 2:19.26, chased home by Andrew Osagie of Britain in 2:19.31.
Mike Rowbottom for World Athletics