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article imageMeet Helena Duplantis: Athletic trainer, and former heptathlete Special

By Markos Papadatos     Apr 25, 2020 in Sports
Athletic trainer Helena Duplantis (and former heptathlete) chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos while quarantined during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
She is the wife of pole vault coach, Greg Duplantis, and the mother of pole vault world record holder Mondo Duplantis, whom she trains. One of her other sons, Antoine Duplantis, is a professional baseball player who now plays for the New York Mets.
"We have been doing all right, but it isn't fun," she said, about being quarantined during the pandemic. "We are trying to stay motivated, and that's hard since we don't know what the rest of the season is going to look like, or if we are going to even have a season."
This past February, Duplantis improved his own world record to 6.18 meters at the Muller Indoor Grand Prix in Glasgow. "The two back-to-back world records were so surreal," she said. "Before we fully went in the indoor season, Mondo was jumping six meters in practice and that never happened. So, we knew that Mondo was capable of breaking the world record indoors."
"Mondo is on a different level this year," she said. "Mondo is very self-motivated. He has always been like that: he sets his goals for the season, and when he turns that mode on, he's very focused. I don't have to be this trainer that has to push him too hard. On the other hand, he can turn that mode off, relax, and have fun too."
A proud moment for Helena was when Mondo won the IAAF Diamond League in Stockholm, Sweden. The fact that he won his first IAAF Diamond League in 2018 in her home country made it that much more special for the Duplantis family.
She listed the high jump and the long jump as her personal favorite events when she competed in the heptathlon. "I wasn't a super-fast runner, and distance running hurts," she said with a sweet laugh. "I did like the throwing events such as the shot put and the javelin, and I enjoyed the hurdles too. I guess I did the heptathlon because I didn't truly have one outstanding event."
Helena recalled that she had one of her first training camps ever in Athens, Greece. "I love Greece. I did one of my first training camps there. I was 16 or 17 years old. That was really cool," she admitted.
For young and aspiring track and field athletes, she said, "First of all, find an event that you really love, and you are passionate about and feel that you can excel in. That makes it that so much more fun. In the United States, I wish some of the high schools had multiple events just like we had in Europe. Venture out and try different events."
On the impact of technology on track and field, she said, "The modern technology has changed a lot. We can use different apps to look at angles, velocities, and that has really helped a lot. I can send my husband, Greg, video footage over the phone, and he can coach Mondo over the phone. As far as the equipment goes, that hasn't changed as much."
Helena offered the following advice for athletes during this pandemic: "It can be frustrating and it can be sad, but things will get better for sure. We are still healthy. Try to make the best out of this situation, and perhaps more positive things will come out of it. Lately, I have learned so much from Mondo. He has the best spirit in this difficult time, and he is a great role model in regarding to keeping my spirit up and my motivation up."
She defined the word success as "being the best you can be." "That may not necessarily be breaking a world record, but go out there and optimize your potential. It's all about success within yourself," she said.
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