Kennedy pips Moon to win Zurich pole vault in train station

athletics30 August 2023 17:50| © AFP
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Nina Kennedy © @Diamond_League

Australian Nina Kennedy, fresh from sharing world championships gold with American Katie Moon in Budapest last week, ensured a stand-alone victory in another nail-biting pole vault competition in Zurich on Wednesday.

Kennedy and Moon, who won Olympic gold in Tokyo two years ago and took the 2022 world title in Eugene under her maiden name of Nageotte, shared gold after tying in the Hungarian capital.

There was no shortage of drama in Zurich, but another shared victory never looked likely as Kennedy won with an Oceania record and personal best of 4.91 metres.

The pole vault was held a day earlier than the main Diamond League programme at the famed Letzigrund Stadium, on a specially constructed track at Zurich Hauptbahnhof, the city's main train station.

A seated temporary tribune overlooked the runway, while thousands of commuters swelled around the landing mat, lending the event a surreal feeling as trains pulled in and out of platforms just metres away.

Dance music boomed and the crowd, often just passing, were left roaring in delight or gasping in disappointment as the 10-strong field took it in turns to thunder down the raised track.

American Sandi Morris, who missed out on US selection for the Budapest world championships, twice pulled it out of the bag, vaulting clear at the third time of asking at 4.66 and 4.76.

Moon, however, vaulted just once until then, clearing 4.66m with ease.

When Kennedy passed 4.81m on her first attempt – a personal best and Oceania record – the pressure was back on Moon, but the American kept her nerve to mirror the Australian's success.


The bar was raised to 4.86, Morris having had one failure at 4.81.

Morris bombed her first attempt at 4.86 but Kennedy improved on her PB and Oceania record by vaulting clear to set a new world-leading mark.

Morris, who set a Zurich Diamond League record of 4.87m at the same station setting back in 2017, was then eliminated, leaving just Moon and Kennedy in the running.

Moon boldly passed at 4.86 and the bar was raised to 4.91.

Kennedy was first on the runway, making no mistake in a remarkable vault, but Moon didn't get close on her first effort.

Moon skipped and the bar went up to 4.96m. Kennedy failed on her opening effort at the height, as did Moon.

The Australian didn't get anywhere near on her second effort, but neither did Moon, handing Kennedy the victory amid an electric atmosphere.

Finland's world bronze medallist Wilma Murto had three no marks to finish in last place.

Kennedy and Moon's shared world gold in Budapest echoed the men's high jump at the Tokyo Olympics when Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy were allowed to share the gold medal with the same height of 2.37m.