Kennedy vaults to record - and novel train station win


Nina Kennedy, Australia's latest athletics world champion, has celebrated by soaring to an Oceanian indoor pole vault record and a novel Diamond League triumph - in the heart of a bustling Swiss train station.

Fresh from her title triumph in Budapest, where she was the only Australian to strike gold and made global headlines when she and her American rival Katie Moon agreed to share the triumph rather than go into an exhausting jump-off, Kennedy this time won outright with a record-breaking display in Zurich.

Wednesday's special event was staged separately on the eve of the world-famous Diamond League 'Weltklasse' main programme at Letzigrund Stadium, organised on a specially constructed track in the Swiss city's Hauptbahnhof, the central railway station.

The unlikely setting, with music blaring in the background, evidently inspired the 26-year-old West Australian, who this time outperformed Moon while clearing 4.91 metres, the highest-ever vault by an Australian woman, adding one centimetre to the record she had cleared outdoors in the Hungarian capital the week earlier.

Not only was it the best vault by any woman in 2023 but it was also a meeting record which only added to the growing list of remarkable achievements by Kennedy, who is currently the Commonwealth, World and Diamond League champion.

"I am really surprised, and I am so happy. This is all my dreams come true, I love Zurich," beamed Kennedy after being cheered to the rafters by a big crowd of commuters watching from a makeshift tribune and around the landing mat while trains were pulling in and out of platforms just metres away.

"Now I will fly home to Australia before travelling to Eugene where I hope to win the final," Kennedy said, talking of the Diamond League final in Oregon on September 16 and 17, the event she won last year in another unlikely venue, in a city centre square also in Zurich.

"Having a week off after the Worlds, I just wanted to go out there and have fun and I think because the pressure was off, I was able to just focus on doing what I love," beamed Kennedy, who moves to fifth on the world indoor all-time list.

"I can't believe I was able to jump 4.91.

"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 and it fills me with a lot of confidence going into Eugene - and for next year too."

Kennedy was particularly delighted to emerge victorious after she nearly went out of the competition with the bar at 4.76, going over only at the final attempt before then pulling off four successive first-time clearances, including the record-breaking 4.91m, while runner-up Moon could respond with nothing better than 4.81.