Sergey Bubka salutes Laureus Nominee Armand Duplantis ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Laureus Academy Member and pole vault legend Sergey Bubka has told Sweden’s Armand Duplantis he has a ‘fantastic chance’ of winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
The two were sharing an enthralling conversation for, following the Nomination of Duplantis for this year’s Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award.
In the discussion, they talked about Bubka’s glittering past and Duplantis’ hopes for the future. They even spent time discussing the merits of the different length and flex of poles used for vaulting.
Duplantis took a massive step forward to confirm himself as the No.1 pole vaulter in the world in 2020 when he broke Renaud Lavillenie's six-year-old world record with a jump of 6.17 metres in Poland and increased it a week later in Glasgow to 6.18m. When athletics returned, in the Rome Golden Gala Pietro Mennea Diamond League event, he broke Bubka’s highest outdoor vault in history with 6.15m.
Bubka, who dominated the sport for almost two decades and is the only athlete in history to have won six successive world titles, broke the world record 35 times in his career. He told Duplantis: “This is great what you did, and I believe for the future it is also possible to jump higher. I understand that the Olympic Games is a very important event for you and, of course, I wish you good luck in the Olympics, because this is something unique. There is nothing to compare with the Olympic Games.”
Bubka recalled ruefully how he missed the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. “Back in my memory, in 1984, I lost my dream with many other Olympians who dreamed to compete in the Olympics and win the Olympics. I lost it because of boycotts. In your case, in your generation, it's a little bit different [with the pandemic], but I understand how tough it was.”
Duplantis, American-born but competing for Sweden, told Bubka: “It was pretty tough, because I was just coming off the indoor season where I broke the world record twice and I was pretty much just on top of the world. I felt fantastic jumping and the rhythm on the run and everything just felt really great and then, two weeks later, everything shut down. I think the main thing for me was keeping the motivation and the excitement - don't think of it as cancelled, it's just postponed, it's going to happen.
“I want to jump as high as possible, but a really important thing for me now is I want to win the championship meets. I came up a little short in 2019, I was second in the World Championships and so, of course, that's a meet that I want to win and I want to win several times. 
“I think the big goal right now is the Olympics. I mean, it's the biggest event in track and field, it's the pinnacle of our sport. So I want to be able to come away with the gold because I think it's really important if you want to leave your legacy as one of the best pole vaulters to live.” 
Bubka wished Duplantis luck. “You have a fantastic chance to get this glory and to feel this value of Olympic victory. I am also a member of the International Olympic Committee, I understand and I know how important it is for you, for your friends, for colleagues, for all the Olympic Movement to have the Games. 
“Your family is a very supportive family. I always follow you. I know a lot of things. I wish all of you a lot of success. It's a bright career, and I consider it is beginning and you have great potential. Do your best, keep motivation and, of course, make your family and fans of athletics happy and proud.”
During the conversation, Duplantis revealed to Bubka that he has been one of his idols for years. “I grew up pole vaulting at such a young age. When I was four, five, six, I was watching videos of you, it seemed like it was impossible feats, really. As the years kept going on, and I started getting closer and closer to that six metre barrier, the dream started to become a little bit more of a reality. 
“It's such a special mark. A lot of that is because of you, because you set the bar so high. There's still quite a few things I need to do if I want to catch you, but hopefully this career has just started and I'm able to achieve a lot more things.”
Bubka added: “Your achievement is impressive because athletics is very close to me, pole vault is my life, and to see you leading pole vault now will bring the new generation to a new level, this is something unique and special. 
“I am very pleased to see you nominated for the Laureus Award. I hope it will be good news, of course, but the competition is very strong. Of course the Laureus Award is just one part of Laureus, we also have a charity foundation [Laureus Sport for Good] around 250 programmes, 40 countries around the world, engaged to change the life of kids, change the life of people. Our Academy Members visit and give some tips and some lessons and motivate. This is something unique, that the great champions try to give back to society.”

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