It’s easy to forget that Armand “Mondo” Duplantis is still only 22 years old. The Swedish pole vaulter, who grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, not only holds the world record of 6.21 meters (20 feet, 4.5 inches), but owns seven of the top 10 vaults in world history—including the top five—and is the reigning Olympic and world champion.

Fellow Lafayette native Brennan Robideaux has been there through it all, chronicling the pole vault prodigy’s ups and downs for a documentary since 2017, when Duplantis was a senior in high school. This month, the long-gestating “Born to Fly” film finally makes its debut in Sweden.

Duplantis truly is a prodigy—he still owns the age group world records for ages 7 through 12, as well as ages 17, 18, and 19. That’s what happens when your parents build a pole vault pit in your backyard instead of a playground. His father, Greg, is a former professional pole vaulter, and his mother, Helena, was a multi-event athlete at LSU. The film is as much about Duplantis’ relationship with his parents as it is about his young career, according to Robideaux.

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From the film’s website:

“​​As filming went on, layers of this story began to emerge. It became more than just the documentation of a young prodigy’s success on the track. The story included a coming-of-age saga between a boy and his father.

Greg Duplantis was one of America’s best pole vaulters in his prime. He broke multiple World High School records and was set to become an Olympian. But his story ended sooner than he hoped, never qualifying to make it onto the United States Olympic team due to poor performances at the United States Olympic Trials – arguably, the most intense competition on earth where one day can shape your entire future. His lifelong dream of becoming an American Olympian ended after four failed Olympic Trials appearances. An unceremonious finale to twelve straight years of dedication, training, and a lifetime of preparation.

There was also the story of Mondo’s mother, Helena, who was a talented Swedish heptathlete who came to the United States on a scholarship for track & field where she met Greg. She, like her husband, was obsessed with sports - and that translated completely to their children. Sports weren’t just something they partook in like the average kids... sports consumed them.

So, when the local college put their old pole vault pit up for sale, the temptation was too great, and the Duplantis family purchased the entire set-up, reassembling the massive structure in their modest backyard. It became their playground. And thus, the legend of the Duplantis family was born in our town.”

Right now, the film can only be seen in Swedish theaters, but both Robideaux and Duplantis have teased on social media that a U.S. release (whether in theaters or streaming) may be coming soon.

The film is a bildungsroman for filmmaker Robideaux as well, who was just 21 years old and living at home on “permanent deferral” from college when he stumbled upon Duplantis’ story in the local newspaper. He walked down the street from his parents’ house to film the high school senior’s practices when he first started the project in 2017. In the final year of production, the film was picked up by Red Bull Studios and he had an entire team and budget around him.

“Making Born to Fly has been an experience my younger self could only have dreamed of,” Robideax writes on the film website. “Now, very soon, it will be an experience we can share together.”

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