Three and easy for Mondo Duplantis – AW

    Pole vault star makes light work of another European Championships win before making world record attempt, while Malaika Mihambo rediscovers long jump form in spectacular style

    At a European Championships that has showcased some of the field events so brilliantly, it was perhaps fitting that the final action of Rome 2024 should see the spotlight falling on one of the best field eventers the world has ever seen.

    Long after the dust had settled on the 4x100m relays, Mondo Duplantis found himself in familiar territory – with first place secured and with a world record in mind.

    The European Championships have a very special place in the American-born Swede’s heart. It was at the 2018 edition when the then teenager cleared six metres for the first time and truly announced himself to the world.

    The capture of a third consecutive European crown outdoors was never in doubt – Duplantis is playing a different game to the rest of the world, never mind the Continent – but still he held on to his habit of bringing the attention on his event as a healthy number of the Stadio Olimpico crowd stayed to watch.

    He had gone over first time at every height between 5.65m and 5.97m, while a PB of 5.87m from world indoor bronze medallist Emmanouil Karalis was the closest anyone could get to the Olympic champion. The Greek gave himself a shot at what would have been a temporary lead of 6.02m but it was not to be, while Ersu Sasma of Turkey and Oleg Zernikel of Germany shared bronze with an identical record and a best of 5.82m.

    With gold won, Duplantis asked for the bar to be moved straight up to 6.10m and promptly went straight over that to break his own championships record of 6.06m from Munich.

    After a lengthy chat with his parents Greg and Helena, also his coaches, then a smile and a nod to the crowd, it was time to tackle the world record height of 6.25m.

    On more than one occasion he had the height but, with the clock ticking closer to midnight, the bar would not stay on. Raising the record would have to wait for another day but Duplantis certainly doesn’t seem to be tired of trying (or winning) and the world is not tired of watching.

    “I felt really good,” said Duplantis. “Of course, the main goal was to go out there and to win, take home my third gold. I am very satisfied with the height and I did not really think I was attempting the world record today. It was not part of the plan but, after the 6.10m, there was just too much energy there. I looked at my parents and we both had the same idea, we were like: ‘It’s just fun, so why not?’ I cannot complain.”

    Mailaka Mihambo (Getty)

    Top class jumping has been a feature of these championships and it was very much in evidence again in the women’s long jump final, with Olympic champion Malaika Mihambo returning to form in spectacular fashion and Larissa Iapchino delighting the Italian crowd with some late drama.

    Mihambo, world champion in 2022, had been unable to defend that title last summer in Budapest due to a hamstring injury, but the German appears to be firing on all cylinders once more after she flew out to 7.22m with only her second jump.

    It was not only a world lead but the second-furthest she has ever leapt, her PB of 7.30m coming back at the 2019 World Championships in Doha. It was more than enough to give her a title she had last won in 2018 and was the third-best jump ever at the European Championships, behind Heike Drechsler’s 7.30m in 1990 and 7.27m in 1986.

    Behind her, Iapachino had found consistency but not the distance to put her among the medals and she sat in fourth place by a single centimetre approaching her final effort. Just as they had with high jump hero Gianmarco Tamberi the previous evening, the Roman crowd propelled her down the runway and she responded in style, soaring to 6.94m – just three centimetres short of her PB – and moving into silver medal position.

    It was still possible that Agate de Sousa and Mikaelle Asani – both locked on 6.91m from the third round – could overtake her, but they fell short and the Portuguese took bronze ahead of the German thanks to her better overall series.

    Meanwhile, Olympic silver medallist Jakub Vadlech left it late to win his first European title in the men’s javelin. The Czech athlete’s final throw of 88.65m – a season’s best – took the 2022 silver medallist beyond German Julian Weber, who had led the competition since his opening effort of 85.94m. Oliver Helander threw 85.75m – one of only two legal attempts the Finn managed to produce – in round three to take bronze.

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