High Olympic pole vault hopes for Kennedy

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The status of a young veteran in a discipline where the very best often don't reach their peak until they are approaching 30 sits comfortably with Australian pole vaulter Nina Kennedy.

Ranked a heady fifth in the world this year courtesy of her national record-breaking effort of 4.82m in Sydney in March, the West Australian shapes as a legitimate medal shot at the Tokyo Olympics.

And even though Kennedy will be making her Olympic debut in the Japanese capital, the 24-year-old is far from a novice on the global stage.

At 18 she was the youngest member of the Australian team at the 2015 world championships in Beijing, although she no-heighted.

Three years later, Kennedy cried tears of joy after claiming Commonwealth bronze in 2018 just days after celebrating her 21st birthday.

Significantly, she is more than five years younger than the only four women to have vaulted higher than her in 2021, headed by 30-year-old American Katie Nageotte.

"I'm very young in the sport but I've already had lots of learning experiences," Kennedy told AAP at the Australian Olympic team training camp in Cairns.

"I know that I'm really going to hit my peak in the next few years."

Had it not been for travel restrictions and associated uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, Kennedy would have spent the final stage of her Olympic build-up on the Diamond League circuit in Europe.

Instead she and her training partners Elizaveta Parnova and Kurtis Marschall have completed their preparation on home soil under the guidance of Paul Burgess - a two-time Olympian and member of the exclusive six-metre vaulting club - who will be on the Australian team coaching staff in Tokyo.

"The minimum requirement for me in Tokyo is I need to make the final - that's where my head is at," said Kennedy.

"And once I'm in the final absolutely anything can happen if I stick to my plan and processes.

"Some girls will crack, some girls will melt, some girls' poles might not turn up.

"Anything can happen in a pole vault final."

The qualifying round of the women's pole vault in Tokyo is on August 2 with the final to take place three days later.

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