Nina Kennedy wins gold by agreement, sealed with a hug and a handshake

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Budapest: Australia’s Nina Kennedy has was won a gold … by discussion and mutual agreement.

Unable to split Kennedy and US jumper Katie Moon on countback, officials offered the pole vaulters a choice: did they want to jump again, or would they share the gold?

Australia’s Nina Kennedy (right) celebrates with Katie Moon, of the US, after they won joint gold medals in the women’s pole vault final in Budapest.Credit: Reuters

Moon looked at Kennedy. Kennedy looked at Moon. They both smiled nervously waiting for the other to speak first.

Kennedy had just jumped two national records to get to the 4.95 metre height that stopped her.

But Moon was the reigning world and Olympic champion. She had a personal best of 4.95m, and on this steamy night in Budapest she couldn’t clear it. Still, despite the heights being matched, she was the senior athlete.

Overcome with emotion, Nina Kennedy celebrates her gold medal.Credit: Getty

They nervously looked at each other smiling. Both athletes had to agree, or it would go to a jump off; the bar gradually lowered until a clear winner could be found.

In the end their choice was a no-brainer. A gold medal shared is still a gold medal, after all.

Nina Kennedy clears the bar.Credit: Getty

It was Australia’s first pole vault world gold medal since Steve Hooker (Olympics 2008, world championships 2009).

Kennedy jumped higher than she or any other Australian had ever jumped – twice; at 4.85m and then 4.90m, before the bar was put to 4.95m.

Nina Kennedy had some tense moments before deciding to share the gold medal with Katie Moon.Credit: Getty

Moon had missed the same number of jumps as Kennedy, so they traded attempts.

Kennedy pulled out of her first attempt at the height, and Moon clipped hers. Kennedy missed her second attempt, walked away, sat on the track, her back to the pole vault runway, unable to watch.

Maybe she was sneaking a peek at the big screen, but her back was to the runaway. She wouldn’t need to see it to know if Moon got over the bar; the crowd would tell her.

She was safe.

On her final jump, Kennedy hit the bar. She walked over to the officials to check: “what happens next if Katie hits it?”

Kennedy won bronze at the worlds last year and has now added a gold. She won the Diamond League and Commonwealth gold, all within weeks, but this was her corwning moment.

More to come

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