Moon and Kennedy Stage Epic Pole Vault Clash, Share Gold!

2023 World Athletics Championships
Budapest, Hungary
August 23, 2023

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the sport we love is not simply “Track.”  It’s Track and field. Here are two stunning events – one a track event, the other a field event – that were standout highlights of Day Five of the 2023 World Athletics Championships.
wPV – Final:  The highlight of Day Five of the 2023 World Athletics Championships was a gripping battle in the final of the women’s pole vault.  The event started innocently enough and was seen as a contest among the USA’s seasoned performers, Katie Moon and Sandi Morris, and talented younger athletes.  It would turn out to be one of the most stirring pole vault competitions in recent memory.
Midway through the event, as the bar was lifted to 4.75m/15’7″, Morris, Slovenia’s Tina Sutej, Finland’s Wilma Murto, Australia’s Nina Kennedy, and defending champion Katie Moon all were sporting clean cards. Morris, #3 on the all-time list, had 3 misses at the new height and bowed out.
Nina Kennedy, co gold medalist, photo by Kevin Morris
As the bar went to 4.80m/15’9″, only 6 vaulters remained.  5 of those still in the competition (Moon, Kennedy, Sutej, Great Britain’s Molly Caudery, and Switzerland’s Angelica Moser) had missed along the way – with only Murto remaining spotless. Moser was 3-and-out at 4.80m as the remaining 5 moved onward and upward.
At 4.85m/15’11”, Caudery went out.  So did Sutej, who just missed setting a new national record for Slovenia.  Murto, with no misses at this point, also went 3-and-out but was certain to win the bronze medal.  Only Kennedy and Moon – both with first-attempt clearances at 4.85m – remained and were assured of medals.  But who would get the gold?
At 4.90m16′ 3/4″, Kennedy and Moon struggled, both missing on their first two attempts.  On her 3rd attempt, a stern and focused Kennedy cleared the bar.  Now it was the defending champion’s turn.  With the pressure on, Moon – ranked #1 on the world list –  delivered, clearing the bar and bouncing off the mat with a smile of disbelief on her face.  The defending champion was enjoying this!
The bar was raised to 4.95m/16’2 3/4″ – a height cleared only by Moon and 3 other athletes in the history of the sport.  Neither Moon nor Kennedy could clear the bar.  Not eligible to proceed higher,  the officials asked the duo if they wanted to break the tie with the traditional jump-off.  The twosome, tired and exhausted, had a brief discussion and agreed to share the gold medals – the same resolution undertaken to settle the men’s high jump tie between Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Afterward, Moon offered insight into the decision for the shared outcome.  “After concluding 95, Niny and I were simply tired and exhausted,” explained Moon.  “I was pleased that, like me, Nina wanted the shared outcome.  And I think it was the right thing to do.”
m1500m – Final:  In many respects, the final of the men’s 1500 meters conjured up memories of last year’s World Championships in Eugene when unheralded Jake Wightman won the gold over favored Jakob Ingebrigtsen.  This year lurking in the background was another Brit, Josh Kerr – a highly respected but often low-profiled and overlooked middle-distance competitor.  As the final unfolded, Kerr didn’t hesitate going up front.  And throughout the race, he kept a constant eye on Ingebrigtsen. With the Norwegian in control at the bell, Kerr prepared for his moment.  With 200m to go, Kerr bolted, and the battle was on.
Josh Kerr is the World Champion, photo by Kevin Morris
After racing together around the curve, the Norwegian and the Brit were elbow-to-elbow on the homestretch as the crowd roared.  Finally, halfway up the homestretch, Kerr’s relentless charge broke Ingebrigtsen, and the Brit sailed on for the win in 3:29.38.  Ingebrigtsen (3:29.65) held on for Silver, followed by his Norwegian teammate Narve Gilje (3:29.68 – Bronze), Kenya’s Abel Kipsang (3:29.89), and USA’s Yared Nuguse (3:30.25) while USA’s Cole Hocker PR’d for 7th in 3:30.70.
/Dave Hunter/