UNDER THE GAZE of the event’s queen, Yelena Isinbaeva, Russia’s Anzhelika Sidorova took her first global vault title—following on from European crowns indoors and out—when she went over 16-2¾ (4.95) at the third time of asking to clinch gold. Into the bargain she moved up to No. 4 on the all-time list.
From start to finish it was an enthralling contest of the highest quality which saw the meet’s largest final ever after no fewer than 17 advanced by clearing 15-5 (4.70), equaling history’s highest qualifying height. Nicole Büchler of Switzerland earned the dubious distinction of not advancing with a 14-11 (4.55), the highest non-qualifier ever.
In the final, the progression was aggressive, with the opening height of 14-9 (4.50) then jumping to 15-5 (4.70) for the second setting. Nonetheless, no fewer than 13 were still in when the bar was raised to 15-9 (4.80), although the American pair of Jenn Suhr and Katie Nageotte departed at that height and ended up =7th. A half-dozen did clear, including Sidorova and ’17 WC silver medallist Sandi Morris; both had flawless cards up to that point. The pair continued without a failure to their names when they went over 15-11 (4.85) first time, soon being joined by Greece’s defending champ Katerína Stefanídi, who got over on her second attempt as she had also done at the previous height.
With the bar at 16-¾ (4.90) it was time for who got which medals to start being decided. Great Britain’s Holly Bradshaw had failed twice at 15-11 (4.85) and unsuccessfully had a third attempt at the higher height and so just missed out on a medal in 4th. Stefanídi then brought the bar down first time but watched as Morris and then Sidorova continued to vault impressively, each putting daylight between herself and the bar with good first-time clearances, which for Sidorova was an outdoor PR.
And so, the bar moved up to 16-2¾ (4.95), and never before had three women still been in contention with a bar so high at the World Champs, Stefanídi knowing she was secure of a medal and opting to take her remaining attempts at this height. All three women had two failures—Stefanídi exiting with a bronze to her name—before Morris went very close to going clear with her third attempt and Sidorova fulfilled her role as marginal pre-champs favorite by clearing with room to spare.
“When I saw Sandi fail [for the third time at 16-2¾] I obviously knew what the options were, go clear and I get the gold, fail and it’s a jumpoff. I have to say I psyched myself up for that last jump knowing that I was so tired, emotionally and physically. Looking back, I don’t think I would have had the strength to carry on jumping if there was a jumpoff and that’s one reason why I didn’t carry on jumping after winning,” said Sidorova, calling it a day after her winning jump and choosing not to try to join the 5-meter (16-4¾) club on this occasion.
In contrast to the justifiable complaints about the conditions for the marathons and walks outside the stadium, the leading vaulters couldn’t have been happier in Doha. “Without doubt, it’s the best conditions we’ve had for a competition all season,” purred Morris. “Temperature was perfect, not too cold, not too warm; no problems with the wind, in fact, I think it’s the first time this year I’ve had a tailwind rather than battle crosswinds. The runway was great as well.”
Worth a mention was the drama when Sweden’s Angelica Bengtsson broke her pole on her third attempt at 15-9 (4.80) and she ended up crumpled in the box. Dusting herself down and shaken—but luckily otherwise unhurt—she was allowed another attempt and quickly asked around for another pole in her specification, which France’s Ninon Guillon-Romarin sportingly lent her. Bengtsson then dashed down the runway and proceeded to clear an outdoor NR.
Spare a thought also for Nageotte. On her third attempt at 15-9 (4.80) she seemingly had massive clearance only to nudge it off with her chest on the way down, exiting the pit looking most crestfallen.
The overall depth had been spectacular, the field producing the best-ever marks-for-place in positions =2, =3, =4, 5–6, 9–12.
WC WOMEN’S POLE VAULT RESULTS
(September 29) (temperature 75F/24C; humidity 73–71%)
1. Anzhelika Sidorova (Rus) 16-2¾ (4.95) PR (WL) (4, =13 W; non-Isinbaeva: 3, =5 W);
2. Sandi Morris (US) 16-¾ (4.90);
3. Katerína Stefanídi (Gre) 15-11 (4.85);
4. Holly Bradshaw (GB) 15-9 (4.80);
5. Alysha Newman (Can) 15-9 (4.80);
6. Angelica Bengtsson (Swe) 15-9 (4.80) NR;
=7. Katie Nageotte (US) 15-5 (4.70);
=7. Robeilys Peinado (Ven) 15-5 (4.70);
=7. Jenn Suhr (US) 15-5 (4.70);
=7. Iryna Zhuk (Blr) 15-5 (4.70);
11. Yarisley Silva (Cub) 15-5 (4.70);
12. Ninon Guillon-Romarin (Fra) 15-5 (4.70);
=13. Nikoléta Kiriakopoúlou (Gre) 14-9 (4.50);
=13. Ling Li (Chn) 14-9 (4.50);
=13. Angelica Moser (Swi) 14-9 (4.50);
=13. Tina Šutej (Slo) 14-9 (4.50);
17. Lisa Ryzih (Ger) 14-9 (4.50).
(best-ever mark-for-place: =2, =3, =4, 5–6, 9–12)
(September 27; auto-qualifier 15-1/4.60)
Qualifiers: all finalists cleared 15-1/4.60 (all =highest Q ever)
[14-11/4.55]—Nicole Büchler (Swi) (highest non-qualifier ever);
[14-9/4.50]—Huiqin Xu (Chn), Fanny Smets (Bel), Maryna Kylypko (Ukr);
[14-3¼/4.35]—Kelsie Ahbe (Can), Romana Maláčová (CzR), Wilma Murto (Fin), Lene Retzius (Nor), Michaela Meijer (Swe), Alyona Lutkovskaya (Rus), Liz Parnova (Aus), Irina Ivanova (Rus), Roberta Bruni (Ita);
[13-9¼/4.20]—Killiana Heymans (Neth);
… nh—Katharina Bauer (Ger).
(best-ever mark-for-place: 11–17)