Nina Kennedy has gone one better than her gold medal triumph at the world athletics championships last week, winning the pole vault competition by herself at the Zurich Diamond League meeting on Wednesday. Kennedy shared the gold with Katie Moon in Budapest last week, but on Wednesday she got the better of her American rival and broke her own Australian record.
The Aussie star won with a best effort of 4.91 metres - a new Australian, Oceania and meet record, personal best and world-leading mark this year. "I am really surprised. And I am so happy. This is all my dreams come true, I love Zurich," Kennedy said after the event held in a train station.
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The Aussie is now targeting the Diamond League finals in Oregon from September 16-17. "Now I will fly home to Australia before travelling to Eugene where I hope to win the final," she said.
The pole vault was held one day earlier than the main Diamond League event. The competition took place at the Letzigrund Stadium on a specially constructed track at Zurich Hauptbahnhof - the city's main train station.
Sandi Morris, who missed out on being selected for the US team for the world championships, rounded out the podium alongside Kennedy and Moon. "I didn't get my run dialled in soon enough," Moon said.
"It took me a minute to get comfortable with the runway. I had a feeling it would go high today." Kennedy's latest heroics had athletics fans in awe on social media.
4⃣.9⃣1⃣ metres for @ninakennedy_!
That's a world lead, an area record, a personal best and a meeting record for the 🇦🇺 world champion!#ZurichDL 🇨🇭#DiamondLeague
📸 @chiaramontesan2 pic.twitter.com/j8hjr6RF7m
— Wanda Diamond League (@Diamond_League) August 30, 2023
Hmmm so the jump off finally took place 😀
— Hu Pow (@hu_pow) August 30, 2023
Does that mean that she is THE world champion
— RF20 (@CaptainSanti47) August 30, 2023
The USA duo of Katie Moon and Sandi Morris finished 2nd and 3rd, jumping 4.81m and 4.76m respectively, with Kennedy being the only Pole Vaulter to jump over 4.91m. #ZurichDL 🇨🇭 pic.twitter.com/fKTrNlzDfg
— Making of Champions (@MakingOfChamps) August 30, 2023
Came down to a battle of the world champions, USA’s Katie Moon and Australia’s Nina Kennedy.
Kennedy cleared an overall pb of 4.91m, one centimeter higher than in Budapest, to take the win. https://t.co/l0B6N99r6e
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) August 30, 2023
Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon caught up in 'shameful' furore
Kennedy's latest triumph comes after she and Moon copped some nasty backlash over their decision to share the gold medal in Budapest. After they each had three unsuccessful attempts at 4.95m, the Australian and American agreed to share the gold rather than continue with a sudden-death jump-off - as per pole vault rules.
Moon was forced to defend the decision in the aftermath, hitting back at some of the critics. "I would like to help enlighten those that are calling us 'cowards,' 'shameful,' 'pathetic,' etc," she wrote on social media.
"I know you can't make everyone happy in this world but in an effort to help people understand the sport that I love so much. The pole vault is not an endurance event. We have a short window of jumps once the fatigue sets in. It not only becomes more difficult but dangerous. The sport has seen everything from athletes just landing funny with minor tweaks to horrific accidents.
"To walk away healthy and with a gold medal while celebrating with my friend that had jumped just as well was a no-brainer. Part of the reason we've reached the highest level is by listening to our bodies.
"I understand that people want to see a clear winner. But in this instance, it was without a doubt the right decision, and one that I will never regret. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a 'win at all cost' mindset to have a champion's mentality."
Kennedy echoed those sentiments when she said: "We were out there for such a long time, we were pushing each other to the absolute limit. Katie is the world champion, she is the Olympic gold medallist, I didn't think she would want to share it and I thought we might need to keep jumping.
"But I kind of looked at her and said 'hey girl you maybe wanna share this?' and the relief, you could see it on her face and you could see it on my face and it was mutual. It's absolutely incredible to share a gold medal with Katie Moon; we have been friends for so long."
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