Olympics-After Tokyo 'test run', Duplantis set for different experience in Paris


FILE PHOTO: Olympics - Puma launches a new brand campaign with Olympic athletes - Mob House, Saint-Ouen near Paris, France - April 10, 2024 Sweden's Armand Duplantis in an interview during the launch REUTERS/Yves Herman

(Reuters) - After making his Olympic bow in Tokyo when strict COVID-19 restrictions kept fans away and athletes in a bubble, pole vault world record holder Armand Duplantis hopes his second Games in Paris will be more like the way he always imagined them.

"It feels like it's going to be, in a way, my first Olympics," the Swede, who won gold in the Japanese capital, told Reuters.

"It felt like a little test run, Tokyo, and it was also just a very stressful situation and very stressful time when we had the Olympics."

In 2021, with no fans there to cheer them on, athletes had to get used to competing in empty venues and were ordered to follow strict rules to prevent any spread of the virus within the Olympic "bubble".

Duplantis expects Paris to be a lot more fun.

"The situation with COVID just brought a lot of stress, on everybody, and you weren't really able to be as free as you would like to," he said.

"Paris is going to be a completely different experience and it's going to be great. I'm super excited. It's also nice to be able to have family members there that can actually watch you."

Duplantis has won everything there is to win as an athlete, including world indoor and outdoor titles as well as setting seven world records, but the 24-year-old is far from content with his achievements.

"I feel like I have got a lot of fire in me, I'm very hungry," Duplantis said.

"It definitely helps that it's an Olympic year, honestly, because I feel like there's a different level of intensity that comes into the training. Subconsciously, it just happens that way because it's such a big year.

"I feel like there's a lot left for me still to do on the track, a lot of higher heights to go, and I just want to keep pushing myself, keep improving, keep trying to see what I can get out of myself and just jump higher."

Despite his dominance, Duplantis said it was too soon for him to be included as one of the all-time greats.

"I like my chances against any pole vaulter now or in the history of the sport. I feel like I'm going to be the best guy on the track always. But other than that, I don't really think about it in that way," he added.

"I'm a little bit too young right now career-wise. I have a little bit more longevity to achieve, to be in the conversation of 'best career'."

The athletics competition at the Olympics takes place at the Stade de France from Aug. 1-11.

(Reporting by Iain Axon, writing by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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