Unraveling the World of Pole Vaulting in Style
In the exhilarating world of pole vaulting, one name stands above the rest - Mondo Duplantis. A true icon in the world of athletics, Mondo has shattered records, defying gravity with each leap and bound. As we delve into the world style and athletics, Eton had the privilege of sitting down with the record-breaking athlete to discuss not only his favorites from Eton's FW23 collection but also his unparalleled journey of pushing boundaries in pole vaulting, the icons who inspire him, and the intrinsic motivation that fuels his relentless pursuit of greatness. The collection embodies a fusion of Americana sportswear and classic collegiate style, accentuated by subtle details of exquisite design, perfectly mirroring the essence of Mondo's soaring spirit on and off the track.
Eton: We’d love to hear your thoughts about this collection. Are there any pieces in particular that resonate with you?
Mondo: I'm loving the entire color palette and overall style. If I had to choose a few favorites, it would be the four-pocket overshirt. It's so versatile, you can dress it up for a more formal look or keep it casual and cool. You know, it's one of those pieces that lets you do whatever you want with it, I really like that. And then there this other one, it's like a play on a classic Letterman jacket, but with a mix of a cool bomber style with a zipper. It's a perfect blend of sporty and stylish. I can totally see myself wearing it.
Eton: And the purple scarf with the Eton lion insignia, I saw that you wore that one.
Mondo: Oh, the lion scarf is really cool! It has the same colors of LSU, although their mascot is a tiger, it’s still like a classic wild cat mascot. It’s such a soft knit and lightweight too, such good layering piece for any outfit.
Eton: It’s a perfect scarf for you. So, did you grow up in Baton Rouge, where LSU is located? Or is that where you started your pole-vaulting journey?
Mondo: Actually, I grew up in Lafayette, a city near Baton Rouge. But I did go to college there for a year. It was a nice experience, and now when I do go back, I train on campus. It's a special place for me and being part of the LSU community is something that I'll always appreciate.
Eton: I can imagine, they must be thrilled whenever you visit!
Mondo: Absolutely! And even though I didn't finish my studies, competing for them forged a lasting connection, and I'll forever feel like a tiger at heart. It's nice to know that I can always go back if I feel like it.
Eton: Aw, what a nice sentiment. So, how would you describe your day-to-day style? Also, how do you find Swedish fashion compared to American fashion, generally speaking?
Mondo: My day-to-day style is really quite casual, but put together. I like to feel comfortable and look presentable at the same time. I like to layer when I can.
As for Swedish fashion versus American fashion, I don't think there's a huge difference when it comes to my personal style. In Sweden, fashion seems to embrace minimal and functional design, while American fashion often has a more diverse range. I appreciate both for what they offer, and I like to mix and match elements from the two. I find that this collection aligns with my taste, and I love the subtle details, great tailoring and fabrics, I can feel comfortable and look good all day in an Eton shirt.
Eton: Do you tend to incorporate sporty elements into your personal style, or is it more of a natural progression?
Mondo: Sporty elements always find their way into my personal style quite naturally, especially on days when I'm training, which is most of the week. You'll often catch me in gym shorts and a comfortable shirt when I'm intensely focused on my training. But on rest days or when I'm not in the training zone, I like to keep it casual and laid-back. And when I start traveling and competing, I shift to more casual looks that fit with those environments.
Eton: Let’s discuss some of your training routines, for those outside of the pole-vaulting world. In your sport, what muscle groups and part of your body do you have to focus on when training, what’s a typical day of training like?
Mondo: In pole vaulting, there's definitely a lot of emphasis on having a strong upper body, especially the arms and shoulders. It's so crucial for generating the necessary force to propel myself over the bar. Core strength is obviously also super important for stability and maintaining control during the entire process. So, I work on my abs and back a lot to ensure I have that solid foundation. And you can’t forget about the legs! They provide the power for the take-off and drive as I'm going up and over. So, it's really a mix of working on my upper body, core, and legs – it’s a full-body effort to make those jumps happen.
Eton: How inspiring. Can you tell us what drives you to compete against yourself and achieve these world records time and time again?
Mondo: It becomes more of a personal challenge, me against the bar, and against my own self. There's this incredible feeling in the moment when I'm there, facing the bar, knowing that I'm capable of clearing it. It's truly enjoyable, and I feel so grateful for the success I've already achieved. But I also recognize that what I've accomplished already, and what I'm doing now, is a result of all the years of incredibly hard work and sacrifices. For me, it's about being the best version of myself on the track, giving it my all every time.
At the end of the day, I know what I'm capable of, and I really believe there's more to do, more heights to conquer, more records to break. I have this inner drive, and I believe that there's always room for improvement, it’s what keeps me motivated. It's not just about reaching greater heights in terms of records, but also about continuously pushing myself to become a better athlete, and a better person. I'm always striving for more, both on and off the track. That motivation keeps me going.
Eton: Incredible. So, when you beat your own records, and you're flying over that bar, can you describe the kind of emotion that overwhelms you during those monumental moments?
Mondo: It's hard to put into words, really. It's like an overflow of emotions and sensations all at once, so much happening in my mind and body. It's like being in a surreal state, an odd mix of euphoria and disbelief. My mind feels both incredibly focused and strangely blank at the same time. The moment feels so fast yet so slow, and it's like everything around me becomes a blur.
The rush is amazing, and it's moments like these that make all the hard work, dedication, and effort totally worth it. It's why I push myself, why I train relentlessly, and why I give it my all. The feeling of achieving something beyond what I thought was possible is indescribable. It's like being in a dream, yet you know it's real. That moment, right there, is why I do what I do.
Eton: What a remarkable journey! Overcoming challenges is such a crucial part of personal growth. In the early years of your career, you faced some tough competitions and maybe experienced a few losses. Can you elaborate on some of the biggest challenges you encountered during that time and how they shaped you as an athlete?
Mondo: Absolutely, those early years were definitely filled with challenges. Stepping onto the scene as a young athlete and competing against the best in the world was both exciting and daunting. While I had a lot of talent and potential, I realized there was still a gap between where I was and where I wanted to be. Seeing the difference in levels and not achieving the results I hoped for was challenging. But in a way, it's in those situations that I truly learned and grew. Facing the possibility of failure is essential because it pushes you to improve and move forward.
Experiencing those losses and setbacks, as tough as they were, taught me resilience. It made me tougher mentally and physically. It showed me the areas where I needed to improve and inspired me to work harder. I truly believe that those years of challenges and learning from both successes and failures have shaped me as an athlete. They've given me the strength and determination to succeed and reach new heights.
Eton: It's incredible how you've pretty much put pole vaulting back on the map and have become this unexpected icon, sparking a revival in the sport. Looking back, can you share how your vision for yourself and pole vaulting has evolved since you first started?
Mondo: Interestingly, my vision hasn't changed much since the beginning. From a young age, I always believed in my abilities and knew that I could be the best at whatever I set my mind to. Initially, I had aspirations of becoming the best football player in the world, and that belief in my capabilities carried over to pole vaulting. I had this vision that I could excel in this sport, and it's something I truly loved doing.
I always had this unwavering confidence in my pole vaulting abilities, and I thought to myself, "Why not me? Why couldn't I be the best in the world at this?" I attacked it with passion and dedication, pushing myself every time to reach new heights.
Now, with the recognition and attention that come with my success, it's a different situation. I've become more than just a pole vaulter; I'm seen as a prominent figure in the sport. It's a bit of a challenge to handle that, but I always remind myself that the main thing is to stay focused on my performance. I prioritize the sport itself and make sure I'm consistently jumping well. That's the core of everything, and as long as I stay true to my love for it and perform at my best, everything else will fall into place.
Eton: Of course! What motivates you in life besides the feeling of beating high scores and maintaining your position in the world of pole-vaulting?
Mondo: You know, looking back, I've always been quite competitive by nature. It's in my DNA, and growing up in a competitive environment with athletic brothers and parents further fueled that drive. I just love the thrill of competition, pushing myself, and excelling in whatever I do. Improving and constantly challenging myself have always been in my heart.
As I've achieved success and established myself, my motivations have evolved. Before, I had a lot of external motivation to prove to everyone that I am the best. But now, it's more about proving it to myself. I have this inner belief in my abilities, and I want to keep pushing my own limits and reaching new heights. It's about that internal drive to be the best version of myself.
And, you know, I've learned the importance of taking care of myself. Sleep is something that's often underrated but incredibly important. Proper rest and recovery are extremely important for high performance and staying motivated. I always make sure to take the time to rest and recharge when needed. It's all part of the journey to stay motivated, focused, and to continue to excel.
Eton: That’s incredible. Who would you consider as iconic or inspirational figures, famous or not, that have stood out to you throughout your journey?
Mondo: There is definitely one that stands out for me, Renauld Lavillenie, the legendary French pole vaulter, who is also an Olympian. He was the one who held the world record before I broke it, and his dominance in the sport was truly inspiring.
What made Lavillenie even more influential for me was that he isn’t particularly tall for an athlete, and that also gave me hope. Considering my father's height and not knowing how tall I would’ve grown, seeing someone like him excel at such a high level in pole vaulting despite not being the tallest athlete gave me the belief that I could achieve great things too.
There are many other inspirational athletes and individuals who have motivated me along the way, but Renault Lavillenie hold a special place in my heart as an icon who has shaped my journey in pole vaulting.
Eton: That's fantastic to hear! With everything on track and feeling confident, are you looking forward to the Paris Olympics?
Mondo: Absolutely, I'm really looking forward to it. After winning the gold medal in the last Olympics, the plan is to do the same in Paris. I have achieved so much in my career, but one thing that's still on my radar is breaking the Olympic record. It's the one thing in this sport I haven't achieved yet, and that gives me great motivation going into the Paris Olympics. I’ve broken the world record, but the Olympic record is something that would be truly special for me.
Paris 2024 is a major milestone, and I'm really excited to compete there and continue pushing my limits in the sport I love. And I can't wait to see what the future holds, and I'm ready to give it my all in Paris.