Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon caught in 'shameful' furore after sharing gold medal

The Aussie and American pole vaulters agreed to share the gold at the world athletics championships.

Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon at the athletics world championships.
Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon shared the pole vault gold at the athletics world championships. Image: Getty

Katie Moon has fired back at critics complaining about the fact she shared the pole vault gold with Australia's Nina Kennedy at the world athletics championships. Moon and Kennedy sparked extraordinary scenes in Budapest on Thursday when they agreed to share the gold medal after they couldn't be split following a gruelling final.

Kennedy had smashed her own Australian record twice - with a first-time clearance at 4.85m and a gutsy last-ditch effort at 4.90m. But Moon responded in both instances, before they each had three unsuccessful cracks at 4.95m.

'WHAT ON EARTH': World championships rocked by scary pre-race incident

'CAN'T BELIEVE IT': Sha-Carri Richardson wins 100m gold after scandal

They could have then proceeded to a jump-off to decide a single champion, but pole vault rules allow the competitors to share the gold medal if they both agree to do so. The same thing occurred at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, when Mutaz Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi shared the gold.

Kennedy and Moon were both overjoyed to be walking away with a world championships gold medal, but the decision has drawn some criticism. American sprinting legend Michael Johnson, who won eight world champion gold medals, was among those who questioned the rule.

"Fans, do you like the shared gold concept? If you answer yes, second question is will you still like it if it becomes more common?" he wrote on Twitter.

Responding to the backlash on Friday, Moon wrote on social media: "I would like to help enlighten those that are calling us 'cowards,' 'shameful,' 'pathetic,' etc. 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."

Moon, a two-time world champion and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist, said her take-off step moved further from the pit as the night wore on. The American said it was not only an indication of her fatigue. but increased the danger of the jumps. The gruelling competition lasted more than two-and-a-half hours in steamy conditions.

Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon, pictured here at the athletics world championships.
Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon agreed to share the pole vault gold medal at the athletics world championships. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

"To walk away healthy and with a gold medal while celebrating with my friend that had jumped just as well was a no-brainer," she wrote. "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 said immediately after the competition: "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."

Mackenzie Little wins javelin bronze medal

On Friday, Mackenzie Little won Australia's third medal of the world championships - taking bronze in the javelin final. Her last throw of 63.38m moved her from fifth position to second, but she had to settle for bronze when Haruka Kitaguchi of Japan blew the competition apart with a huge heave of 66.73m that was good enough for gold.

"In rounds two, three, four and five I felt so close but there was just something missing," said Little. "I kept going back to (coach Angus McEntyre) on the fence and saying 'I need to get this right and this right' and it was so close.

"If I'm honest it didn't all come together on the sixth. But I have more, I'm so excited to show you I have more at the Diamond League final and next year (at the Olympics). This is absolutely a dream. This is the highlight of my career."

Mackenzie Little, pictured here with her javelin bronze medal.
Mackenzie Little with her javelin bronze medal at the athletics world championships. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Olympic bronze medallist Ash Moloney and Cedric Dubler - the man who famously urged him to glory in Tokyo - were both been forced to pull out of the decathlon due to injury. Moloney was in 16th spot after the opening three disciplines when he pulled the pin before the start of the high jump. Dubler also failed to see out the opening day in Budapest, withdrawing after four events with a back complaint.

with AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.