Even though he’s still 1½ years shy of his 21st birthday, it would have been laughingly easy for Mondo Duplantis to be living in the lap of luxury the past nine months.
For more than two years, LSU’s star freshman pole vaulter had gotten a taste of what it’s like to spend time in Europe, where, like soccer players, elite track and field athletes are treated like rock stars.
It didn’t help that Duplantis came oh-so-close to sniffing the rarified air of a 20-foot clearance when he soared 19 feet, 10½ inches as an 18-year-old to claim the title at the European championships last August.
That came just one month after he cleared 19-1 to win gold at the IAAF World U20 championships in Finland.
But a lucrative pro contract, complete with limousine rides from the airport, plush hotel rooms and an expansive wardrobe, would have to be put on hold.
A scholarship to LSU was waiting, and soon Duplantis picked up his books and headed to class as an ordinary student, just as his parents Greg and Helena did in the mid-1980s and his older brothers, Andreas and Antoine, did before him.