BUDAPEST :American Katie Moon and Australia’s Nina Kennedy decided to share the women’s pole vault gold medal in another magical moment at the World Athletics Championships on Wednesday.
Their decision had echoes of Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi sharing the high jump gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
The two women cleared 4.90 metres in a dramatic final that stretched two hours and 10 minutes, but both missed on all three attempts at 4.95 and decided to share the victory rather than go to a jump-off.
“I jumped out of my skin tonight. It was super crazy,” Kennedy said. “I cannot explain it. It was surreal. I jumped 4.82 two or three years ago so I knew I had some higher heights in me and tonight I just placed them together.
“To win a gold medal, it is just a dream come true – I knew I could get on the podium, but it was a miracle to get the gold. So I think a miracle happened tonight.”
It was the second consecutive world title for Moon, who also won Olympic gold in Tokyo. Armed with a personal best of 4.95 and a season’s best of 4.90, the 32-year-old Moon appeared to be the favourite.
But Kennedy had other ideas. She surpassed the Australian record and her own personal best by eight centimetres when she sailed over 4.90, and then held back tears as she looked up at the steady bar in joyful disbelief.
Moon and Kennedy chatted briefly after their three misses to decide the outcome, then embraced.
“I am a big softie, it is so beautiful, it really displays what our sport is about,” Britain’s 2012 Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill said on the BBC. “Two epic performances and they’ve both come away with that gold medal.”
Moon said when the night began she would not have considered sharing gold as a great outcome.
“But now I am completely satisfied. What a battle it was,” the American said. “When it became obvious that only Nina and I were still jumping, the show had just started. I think we both motivated each other. When she had a good attempt, I also wanted to have it.
“It was tiring but worth the effort. What an amazing night. I hope everyone enjoyed that one. We did.”
Wilma Murto of Finland tied her season’s best of 4.80 for bronze, missing all three of her attempts at 4.85. The 25-year-old became the first Finnish woman to win a Diamond League title when she beat Moon at the London event on July 23.
The event featured the two world-leading heights, two national records, and three personal bests among the top six jumpers, and captivated the National Athletics Centre crowd who – prompted by an ominous rhythmic thumping over the sound system when each jumper stepped up to the runway – clapped along in time.
“I felt like the whole stadium was watching every single jump,” Kennedy said. “They were all around us tonight, it was really incredible.”