World Champs Women’s Vault — The Meet’s First Shared Gold

After captivating the crowd with back-and-forth attempts, Katie Moon (l) and Nina Kennedy decided to share the crown. (VICTOR SAILER/PHOTO RUN)

TAKING THEIR LEAD from high jumpers Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim at the Tokyo Olympics, Oregon22 winner Katie Moon of the USA and Australia’s Nina Kennedy decided to spit the title, the first time there had ever been a shared gold medal in any event in the 40 years of the WC.

The pair couldn’t be separated on the scoresheet after they each had third-time clearances at 16-¾ (4.90) before going on to fail 3 times at 16-2¾ (4.95), and they agreed to divide the spoils rather than go to a jumpoff.

“When the final started, I don’t think sharing a gold medal would work for me but now I am completely satisfied,” said Moon, who is also the reigning Olympic champion. “What a battle it was! When it became obvious that only Nina and I were still jumping, the show had just started.”

No fewer than 6 were still in the contest as the bar moved up to 15-9 (4.80). Finland’s ’22 Euro champion Wilma Murto continued clearing bars at the first time of asking, the only vaulter at that stage with a flawless record, to hold pole position.

Kennedy and Slovenia’s 2-time NCAA Indoor winner Tina Šutej also got over this bar with their first attempts but each had a failure to their name earlier in the competition.

Moon made it 4 over 15-9 (4.80) when she slithered over on her second attempt, the bar rocking gently up and down. But she was down in 4th at this point while Great Britain’s Molly Caudery and Switzerland’s Angelica Moser found it a height too far.

At the next bar, Moon and Kennedy both flew clear at 15-11 (4.85) with their first attempts — the latter getting the first of her two Aussie Records on the night — to secure themselves medals after Murto, who was to take the bronze on fewer failures, and Šutej departed.

They then also matched each other at 16-¾, equaling Moon’s world-lead from the USAs.

Both women had close attempts at 16-2¾ (4.95) – Moon with her first vault and Kennedy with her third – which could have extended the enthralling contest further, an outcome that certainly would have delighted a rapt crowd but, in the end, it came to a rapid conclusion.

“I think we both motivated each other,” said Moon. “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.”

For Kennedy, who became member No. 11 of the 16-foot club, the PR when it most mattered represented in two bites a 3-inch (8cm) improvement of her prior best set in ’21.

Said the ’22 WC bronze medalist, “I jumped out of my skin tonight. It was super crazy. I felt like the whole stadium was watching every single jump. They were all around us tonight, it was really incredible. I cannot explain it. It was surreal.

“I jumped 4.82 [15-9¾] 2 years ago, and I knew I had some higher heights in me. Tonight, I just placed them together. All the girls were jumping so well tonight. I think the Olympic final next year is going to be red hot.”

One question has still to be answered by World Athletics at the time of writing.

Will both women get 1st-prize checks for $70,000 or will they “only”’ get $52,500 each — i.e., half the combined amount for the published gold and silver purses?

The full quartet of U.S. vaulters — thanks to Moon’s having a Wild Card as the defending champ — made the final.

Sandi Morris, silver medalist at the last 3 WCs, this time was down in 7th after going no higher than 15-3 (4.65) while both Hana Moll and Bridget Williams cleared 14-9 (4.50) before bringing the bar down 3 times at 15-3 to finish equal-9th and 12th respectively on the countback rule.

Nonetheless, Moll had plenty to smile about since her negotiation of the 15-3 (4.65) auto-Q bar in qualifying raised both the American Junior (U20) and High School Records — by an inch and a half from the 15-1½ (4.61) she and twin sister Amanda had each cleared earlier this year.


FINAL (August 23)

=1. Nina Kennedy (Aus) 16-¾ (4.90) NR (=WL) (=9, x W; #11 over 16ft) (also 15-11/4.85 NR);

=1. Katie Moon (US) 16-¾ (4.90) (=WL, AL);

3. Wilma Murto (Fin) 15-9 (4.80);

4. Tina Šutej (Slo) 15-9 (4.80) PR;

=5. Molly Caudery (GB) 15-7 (4.75) PR;

=5. Angelica Moser (Swi) 15-7 (4.75) PR;

7. Sandi Morris (US) 15-3 (4.65);

8. Robeilys Peinado (Ven) 15-3 (4.65);

=9. Elisa Molinarolo (Ita) 14-9 (4.50);

=9. Hana Moll (US) 14-9 (4.50);

11. Amálie Švábíková (CzR) 14-9 (4.50);

12. Bridget Williams (US) 14-9 (4.50).

(best-ever mark-for-place: =4)

14-1¼ 14-9 15-3 15-7 15-9 15-11 16-¾ 16-2¾
Šutej o o o xo o xxx
Williams o xo xxx
Kennedy p o o xo o o xxo xxx
Morris p o o xxx
Švábíková xo o xxx
Peinado o o xo xxx
Moon p o o p xo o xxo xxx
Caudery xo o o xxo xp xx
Moll o o xxx
Murto p o o o o xxx
Molinarolo o o xxx
Moser o o xo xxo xxx
4.30 4.50 4.65 4.75 4.80 4.85 4.90 4.95

QUALIFYING: (August 21)

(auto-qualifier 15-3/4.65)

Qualifiers: all qualifiers cleared 15-3/4.65 (highest Q ever)

(Moll HSR, AJR)—old HSR, AJR 15-1½/4.61 Moll & Amanda Moll ’23) (2, 4 WJ) (also 15-1/4.60 (x, =9 WJ; x, 3 AJ, HS);

Non-Qualifiers: [15-1/4.60—highest non-Q ever]—Ninon Chapelle (Fra), Ling Li (Chn), Lene Onsrud Retzius (Nor);

[14-9/4.50]—Imogen Ayris (NZ), Juliana Campos (Bra), Margot Chevrier (Fra), Hanga Klekner (Hun), Elina Lampela (Fin), Michaela Meijer (Swe), Alysha Newman (Can), Chunge Niu (Chn);

[14-3¼/4.35]—Marie-Julie Bonnin (Fra), Holly Bradshaw (GB), Roberta Bruni (Ita), Caroline Bonde Holm (Den), Anjuli Knäsche (Ger), Olivia McTaggart (NZ), Anicka Newell (Can), Eléni-Klaoúdia Pólak (Gre), Elien Vekemans (Bel), ;

… nh—Saga Andersson (Fin), Eliza McCartney (NZ), Mirè Reinstorf (SA), Katerína Stefanídi (Gre), Huiqin Xu (Chn).