John Salvado / AAP News
Showing nerves of steel, Australian Nina Kennedy has overcome a horror start to the women’s pole vault final at the world athletics championships to claim the bronze medal.
Kennedy missed her first attempt at her opening height of 4.45m and did not come close with her second, meaning she needed a clutch final-round clearance just to stay in the competition.
Then she got down to business.
“Your brain goes to every possibility – it goes to the worst-case scenario which is no-heighting in the final and the best-case scenario which is clearing it,” she said.
“I just stuck to what I know and that’s following my cues and I just cleared it.”
The 25-year-old West Australian then went over 4.60m, 4.70m and 4.80m at the first time of asking to put herself right back into the contest.
She missed twice at 4.85 and ran under the bar in her only attempt at 4.90m – both beyond her PB of 4.82m – to leave Americans Katie Nageotte and Sandi Morris to battle it out for gold.
By that point she was assured of a place on the podium.
“When you are at the 4.70, 4.80 heights, your brain is saying, ‘If you clear this on your first attempt you could win a gold medal here’,” said Kennedy after pocketing Australia’s first medal of the 10-day championships.
“I cleared 80 on my first attempt and Katie didn’t, but I think Sandi did.
“When I cleared 80 I thought I might have this but then Sandi responded.
“It was a great comp and we had so much fun out there.”
Reigning Olympic champ Nageotte eventually took the gold on countback at 4.85m, leaving Morris the bridesmaid once again.
Morris has finished second at three successive world championships and the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Kennedy will now be favourite to win Commonwealth gold in Birmingham next month, having claimed bronze on the Gold Coast four years ago.
“As athletes we’re so used to thinking ‘I want more, I want more’,” she said.
< p>”But first I’m really going to soak this up.
“A bronze medal on the world stage is absolutely incredible, so I’m just going to enjoy this for the next few days and few weeks.”
Australian Stewart McSweyn booked his spot in Tuesday’s 1500m final with a front-running effort in the second semi.
McSweyn made the early going and held his spot in the top five throughout, eventually finishing fifth in three minutes 35.07 seconds.
Countryman Ollie Hoare bowed out in the other semi.
Big Matthew Denny could hardly have been more impressive in the men’s discus qualifying round.
He opened with a solid throw of 64.89m, then bettered the automatic qualifying standard in the second round with 66.98m – just 9cm shy of his PB – to confirm he will be a genuine medal chance in the final on Tuesday.
After just missing out at the same stage at the Tokyo Olympics, Alex Beck was thrilled to advance to the semi-finals of the men’s 400m.
Beck was fifth in his heat in 45.99, but 2012 Olympic finalist St eve Solomon (46.87) was eliminated.
Competing at his fifth world championships, Nick Hough (13.42) was run out in the semi-finals of the 110m hurdles.
Jack Rayner was 19th in a 10,000m final won by Kenyan powerhouse Joshua Cheptegei, who is chasing the 5000-10,000m double in Eugene.