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World Athletics (WA) named their 2020 World Athletes of the Year recipients on December 5 during an online ceremony.
There was no surprise when Swede Armand “Mondo” Duplantis was named the male winner for his pole vault exploits. However, it was a small surprise to learn that Yulimar Rojas Rodriguez of Venezuela was named the female winner. She is a triple jump specialist. Both are world record holders.
Duplantis twice broke the world record in 2020. He vaulted to 6.17-metres and 6.18m during back-to-back weekend meets, the latter in Glasgow in February, before the pandemic struck. He went undefeated at 16 meets during 2020 and produced the highest outdoor vault at 6.15m during the Rome Diamond League meet.
The 21-year-old is a force to be reckoned with.
He earned a silver medal during the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships, gold during the 2018 Berlin European Championships and gold during the World Junior Championships in 2018.
Duplantis is the youngest athlete to win the World Athlete of the Year.
“It was a really strange season, for me and everybody, but I was able to put it together and get some pretty good results,” said Duplantis.
Duplantis is an American-born Swede. His mother is Swedish, his father is American. He grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, and is attending Louisiana State University.
Yulimar Rojas Rodriguez
Rodriguez is the 2016 Rio Olympic silver medallist. She is also a two-time World Athletics Championships gold medallist from London 2017 and Doha 2019. Rodriguez is also a two-time World Indoors champion from Portland 2016 and Birmingham 2018.
She has also competed in the high jump and the long jump.
The 25-year-old owns bests of:
100m sprint — 11.94
High jump — 1.87m NR
Long jump — 6.57m (and a 6.79m non-legal performance)
Triple jump — 15.41m
She owns the world’s all-time second and fourth longest triple jumps at 15.41 and 15.37m. The world record is 15.50 by Inessa Kravets of Ukraine from Göteborg 1995.
The versatile athlete also qualified for the 2008 Olympics with the Venezuelan volleyball team.
“I started to feel attracted by the triple jump. I felt comfortable doing it, but my coach was not sure about changing events. I spoke to him and managed to convince him to allow me to try the triple in a small meet, where there would be nothing at stake. I had a feeling I could jump well but did not expect to jump that far. After that I became more and more motivated by the triple jump.”