Nina Kennedy wins Diamond League pole vault in world championships twist
One week after having to share her world championship gold medal with American Katie Moon, Australian pole vaulter Nina Kennedy has a big win
READING LEVEL: GREEN
One week after sharing world championship* gold with American Katie Moon, Aussie star Nina Kennedy has achieved a stand-alone victory in another nailbiting* pole vault* competition at the Zurich* Diamond League* meeting on Thursday morning.
Moon, who won gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics* and took the world title in Eugene, Oregon*, last year under her maiden name* of Nageotte, shared gold with Kennedy after tying in Budapest* during last week’s world championships.
Despite the gesture* of classy sportsmanship* to share the gold, Kennedy and Moon were also criticised for the “shameful” act of failing to fight to the bitter end to crown an individual winner.
The act of kindness from Moon mirrored an unforgettable moment at the Tokyo Olympics when Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim agreed to share the high-jump* gold medal*.
There was no shortage of drama in Zurich on Thursday, but another shared victory never looked likely as Kennedy won with an Oceania record*, personal best* and meet record* of 4.91 metres.
Her performance set several incredible records.
“I am really surprised! And I am so happy. This is all my dreams come true, I love Zurich,” Kennedy said.
“Now I will fly home to Australia before travelling to Eugene where I hope to win the final,” she said in reference* to the Diamond League finals* in Oregon on September 16-17.
She told Athletics Australia she knew Moon was going to be “out for blood*” after their world championship result.
“Because the pressure* was off, I was able to just focus on doing what I love. I can’t believe I was able to jump 4.91 tonight,” Kennedy said.
“I didn’t actually have a lot of confidence* going in today. I knew that Katie was out for blood. Sharing that gold medal was nice and all but tonight we both wanted to win and be the outright winner so I felt the pressure.
“We had a great battle* tonight and I came out on top and she fought really hard and it fills me with a lot of confidence going into Eugene for the Diamond League finals and for next year too.”
The pole vault event was held at the famous Letzigrund Stadium on a specially constructed track at Zurich Hauptbahnhof, the city’s main train station.
A seated temporary tribune overlooked the runway*, while thousands of commuters swelled around the landing mat, lending the event a surreal feeling as trains pulled in and out of platforms just metres away.
Dance music boomed and the crowd, often just passing, were left roaring in delight or gasping in disappointment as the competition took place.
When Kennedy passed 4.81m on her first attempt — a personal best and Oceania record — the pressure was back on Moon, but the American kept her nerve* to mirror the Australian’s success.
With the bar raised to 4.91m, Kennedy was first on the runway, making no mistake in a remarkable vault, but Moon didn’t get close on her first effort.
When neither were able to clear 4.96m, the victory was handed to Kennedy amid an electric atmosphere*.
“I did not get my run dialled in* soon enough. It took me a minute to get comfortable with the runway,” said Moon, adding that she was not surprised at Kennedy’s winning height.
“I had a feeling it would go high today.”
- world championship: a major international sports event where athletes from around the world compete in various sports to determine the best in their respective disciplines
- nailbiting: an expression used to describe a very exciting and suspenseful situation
- pole vault: a track and field event where athletes use a long, flexible pole to propel themselves over a horizontal bar at varying heights
- Diamond League: a series of annual track and field events featuring elite athletes from around the world, organised by World Athletics
- Olympics: a global sports event held every four years, featuring a wide range of sports and competitions
- Zurich: the largest city in Switzerland
- Oregon: one of the 50 states that make up America, located in north west
- maiden name: a woman’s original last name before marriage
- gold medal: a prize given to the winner of a competition, often a flat, circular piece made of gold, that symbolises first place
- gesture: A physical action or movement that conveys a particular feeling or intention
- sportsmanship: behaviour and attitude that reflect fairness, respect, and ethical conduct in sports
- high-jump: a track and field event where athletes attempt to jump over a horizontal bar at varying heights without the use of any equipment
- record: the highest or best achievement ever made in a particular sport, event, or activity
- personal best: the best performance an individual athlete has achieved in a particular event
- meet record: the best performance ever recorded in a specific event during a particular competition
- pressure: stress or tension that comes from the expectation of performing well in a competition
- confidence: belief in one’s abilities and skills
- reference: mentioning something in relation to a particular context or event.
- finals: the last stage of a competition, where the top competitors face off to determine the ultimate winner
- out for blood: a strong determination to succeed and compete fiercely
- battle: a competitive struggle between opponents
- runway: the track or path used for events like pole vaulting and running
- nerve: the ability to stay calm and composed under pressure
- electric atmosphere: the overall feeling and mood of a place or situation was exciting and charged with energy
- dialled in: adjusted and prepared properly
- 1. What type of sport is featured in the story where Nina Kennedy achieved a victory?
- 2. Where did the exciting competition take place?
- 3. What did Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon share after tying in Budapest?
- 4. What record did Nina Kennedy set during the competition?
- 5. What did Katie Moon show by agreeing to share the gold medal?
LISTEN TO THE STORY
1. Create an athletic comic strip
Have students create a comic strip that depicts a fictional pole vault competition, including a moment of sportsmanship between two characters. This activity combines creativity with understanding the values of teamwork and respect.
Time: 45 minutes
Curriculum Links: English, Health and Physical Education, Visual Arts
Engage the class in a group discussion about the importance of kindness and sportsmanship in sports and everyday life. Share examples from the story and encourage students to share their own experiences.
Time: 20 minutes
Curriculum Links: Personal and Social Capability, Health and Physical Education
I’ve always wanted to know
If you had the opportunity to talk to one of the athletes and ask them five questions, what would you ask them?
Come up with five different questions. Challenge yourself to use different question stems (question opener words) to write your questions, and don’t forget to end with a question mark.