Aussie pole vaulter Nina Kennedy has won a historic gold medal at the World Championships in Budapest having shared the position with friend and rival Katie Moon. Kennedy and Moon went toe-to-toe for more than two hours in the humid conditions.
Kennedy broke her own Australian record twice as she surged towards gold. However, Moon wasn't to be deterred and matched the Australian's effort every time. Kennedy made a first-time clearance at 4.85m and a gutsy last-ditch effort at 4.90m. In both instances, Moon followed in her footsteps.
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They then each had three unsuccessful cracks at 4.95m. The duo were at a standoff when Kennedy hesitantly approached Moon and asked if she wanted to share the gold.
Much to Kennedy's surprise and joy, Moon was quick to agree in a lovely sporting moment that showcased the duo's sportsmanship. "We were out there for such a long time, we were pushing each other to the absolute limit," Kennedy said after the medal.
"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."
Kennedy admitted "we both started crying" after the historic moment as the pair celebrated together. The 26-year-old thought she had won gold after clearing 1.90m in a huge landmark.
The 26-year-old Australia celebrated what she thought was gold, until Moon matched her stunning effort. "You could tell from my celebration at 4.90 I thought I had it in the bag, I was like 'Yeah, I got this, she ain't doing that'," Kennedy said.
"I threw my arms up in the air and then she jumped it - I think that just shows how much of a fierce competitor she is. She is the GOAT of the sport so respect to her."
Athletics fans lose it over Nina Kennedy feat
Fans around the world were thrilled for Kennedy and praised the sportsmanship between the pair at the world championships.
ON TOP OF THE WORLD 🌍🥇🤯
Nina Kennedy joins the immortals of Australian athletics with the 2023 Women's Pole Vault WORLD TITLE, shared with the USA's Katie Moon.
✅ World champion
✅ World lead
✅ Top-10 all-time
✅ Australian record
✅ No words#ThisIsAthletics pic.twitter.com/31MCydBFGT
— Athletics Australia (@AthsAust) August 23, 2023
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) August 23, 2023
🥇 World champion Nina Kennedy has a nice ring to it!
The pole vaulting Olympian from Western Australia has shared gold at the 2023 World Championships with Olympic champion Katie Moon (USA), becoming Australia's first pole vault world champion since Steve Hooker.@AthsAust pic.twitter.com/4oXzZYzsWQ
— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) August 23, 2023
An incredible moment in the women's pole vault final as Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon share the world gold medal 🔥
They both had the same scorecard in clearing 4.90m 💥
This was the reaction of the pair when they knew they'd be together on the top of the podium 😍 pic.twitter.com/zZDbQbS6LP
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) August 23, 2023
— RunBlogRun (@RunBlogRun) August 23, 2023
SUPERLATIVES Nina Kennedy
Gold Pole Vault 4.90m
▪️AUS’s 11th world champion
▪️Last 8 consecutive Aussie world champs medals won by women (2017-23)
▪️Set 2 AUS record 4.85m & 4.90m
▪️=9th World All-time
▪️would have won gold at 2022 Worlds & equal gold at the Tokyo#TarbyStats pic.twitter.com/RIsIA9V8Zc
— David Tarbotton (@David_Tarbotton) August 23, 2023
— Western Sydney Airport & Employment Lands (@sydwestagribus) August 23, 2023
After the event, Moon was full of praise for Kennedy after admitting the showdown took place under tough conditions. "What a battle it was," she said.
"When it became obvious that only Nina and I were standing, the show had just started. I think we both motivated each other.
"When she had a good attempt at a height, I also wanted to have it immediately. It was tiring but worth the effort." The bronze medal went to Wilma Murto from Finland with a best clearance of 4.80m.
Moon is one of only eight vaulters to ever jump higher than she and Kennedy did in Budapest, a list headed by the legendary Russian Yelena Isinbayeva, whose 14-year-old world record stands at 5.06m.
Kennedy is now equal ninth on the all-time list.
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