Pole Vaulting in a railway station...Stuart Weir writes about Weltklasse ZH pole vault


Stuart Weir is at it again with Pole Vaulting in a railway station. His missives on Weltklasse ZH give you a peculiarly insider view of Diamond League meetings. Stuart has a sense of humor, it is his sense of humor and while I do smile and chuckle a bit, I do not want to give him too much encouragement. Mind you, I thought he was Scottish for two years (his wife is the Scottish one).

Pole vaulting in a railway station, by Stuart Weir

Zürich railway station is the busiest railway station in Switzerland. It was busier than usual on Wednesday evening, the night before the Westklasse Diamond League. The meet started a day early with the women's pole vault competition. The Diamond League website stated: The Weltklasse Zürich street athletics show drew a large crowd to the ticket hall of Zurich Main Station. Commuters welcomed the change in their daily rush hour routine and stopped to cheer the world's best female pole vaulters". If I had gone to the station to buy a train ticket, I am not sure I would have been ecstatic about a load of pole-vaulters having taken over the ticket hall, but perhaps the Swiss travelers are more flexible.

Katerina Stefanidi and Sandi Morris each vaulted 4.87 to jointly set a World lead, Diamond League record and Meeting Record. I bet it was also a station record! On countback Stefanidi was the winner.

Stefanidi credited her technique for her current form. "We are working very hard on technical details and nuances, and on my run-up", she explained. "I just have a lot of self-confidence at the moment. In pole vaulting, you have to be able to concentrate quickly, because of the long breaks between each attempt. I can do that really well right now. And then there are the incredible fans; they push us to great performances."

Runner-up Sandi Morris was excited about last night's competition, as well: "I am really happy with the season's best, particularly because I struggled earlier in the season. Today I was with myself again, and that showed in my result."

Katie Nageotte, who was third, enthused about the competition and the atmosphere: "It was incredible. The way the sound echoed made it so much louder and the energy so much better. It was just so much fun.

"Run-ups were fine but visually you have to get used to how close things are, how close people are and everything seems to be coming past you quicker. And of course it looks a bit different from your approach in a regular track meet. Other than that it is just like a regular meet. You warm up, get yourself ready so it doesn't feel much different from a regular meet but with extra energy from the crowd.

"I love anything which promotes the sport and brings it to a crowd. I thought that was a perfect setting. People were getting off the train, seeing that something was happening and walking down to watch. I heard there were 1000s watching".

And the icing on the cake, so to speak was the mascot, Cooli, joining in and clearing the bar.

Subject to IAAF ratification, I am confident this was the highest vault by a man dressed in a cow suit ever recorded in a Swiss railway station.

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