Why won’t this guy from Louisiana compete for the United States in Tokyo?
The pole vaulter of the world Armand Duplantis was born and raised in Lafayette. In fact, the 21-year-old’s entire life, from elementary school to Lafayette High to Louisiana State University, has been south of I-10.
So why, then, when you search for Duplantis on Wikipedia, do you find this?
“Armand” Mondo “Duplantis is a Swedish pole vaulter of American origin and the current holder of the world indoor record with a height of 6.18 meters and a world record (outdoors) of 6.15 meters.”
Duplantis (a Cajun name if there is one), Swedish? What gives … exactly?
You see, in about a month, at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Lafayette native will be competing for Sweden, his mother’s homeland … and not the United States of America.
But why will the prohibitive favorite for the gold medal compete for a nation other than his own? Well, here’s the story from the New York Times:
Duplantis, known as Mondo, has previously been selected to compete in the Tokyo Games, where he will be one of the favorites to win gold. But he will wear the blue and gold uniform of Sweden, the country from its mother, instead of the red, white and blue from the United States.
Had he sought to represent the United States at the Olympics, Duplantis should have finished among the top three vaulters at the Olympic track and field trials in June. A bad day, problems with his technique or adverse weather conditions would present the risk of having to wait another four years to participate in the Summer Games. “
So, in a nutshell, Duplantis accepted the Swedes’ offer – a guaranteed ticket to the Olympics – rather than risking a bad day at the US Trials and missing the 2020 Games.
The reaction to Duplantis’ decision was mixed, with some saying he was turning his back on his country, state and city that gave him this opportunity. Meanwhile, others are applauding the move, saying that at the end of the day a gold medal will bring him wealth and glory and that he should do whatever is necessary to increase his chances.
On July 31, at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo, Mondo Duplantis, the kid from Lafayette, will wear a blue jersey with Sweden on the front. What if he wins and he steps onto the podium to receive his gold medal and the national anthem of a nation other than his plays … how do you think he will feel? Happy right now? Proud of a life goal achieved? And maybe just a little sad that the colors rippling behind him aren’t red, white, and blue.