This is Stu’s third piece from Doha, Qatar. Dealing with jet lap, Stuart provides @runblogrun’s kind readers with an insider’s view of over twenty meets a year. His sense of humor not withstanding, Stuart just came in from Australia, with his ever patient wife, Lynne, and now will cover the meet for us tomorrow, May 4. This piece is on the amazing pole vault field in Doha, Qatar.
Monitoring the women’s pole vault and lizards
The women’s pole-vault on Friday night at the Doha Diamond League will be an intriguing contest.
Katerina Stefanidi (Greece) is the Olympic and World champion. She put together an unbeaten streak of 19 competitions, with Sandi Morris (USA) often the unfortunate runner-up. But four early 2018 competitions have blown the event wide open.
1. The Glasgow IAAF Indoor Grand Prix was the last of Stefanidi’s 19 victories but even then she had to come from behind against compatriot, Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou, to preserve the unbeaten record.
2. Then at Birmingham in the World Indoors, it was Sandi Morris who took her first ever global title with a vault of 4.95, with Anzhelika Sidorova ( Neutral athlete) taking second with a PR of 4.90. Stefanidi was third.
3. At the US trials just prior to Birmingham, Katie Nagotte recorded a world lead of 4.91 to establish her world class credentials (Incidentally 4.91 would have won gold in Rio and equalled the winning height in the 2017 World Championships).
4. Then, in the Commonwealth Games in April, Alysha Newman (Canada) won with a National Record 4.75. As all the vaulters mentioned are in Doha, it could be an intriguing first event on the programme.
Sandi Morris is excited about the coming season’s competition: “Even since I starting pole vaulting I have seen it grow and women’s pole vaulting has come a long way. Now there are a number of girls who can jump 4.90 like Katie Nageotte, Jenn Suhr, Stefanidi, myself ,but there is also a group jumping 4.80 as well. Girls are now jumping higher than what the world used to expect them to be able to do. In the not too distance future women will be jumping 5.15 or 5.20.” noted Morris.
Morris then added: “It used to be that 4.80 would win most competitions but now we have 5,6,7 girls who can make that height. That shows that the sport has come a very long way and it is really cool to be part of that wave”.
Katie Nageotte shares the positive outlook: “I think to think women’s pole vaulting is in an exciting place. We have a few women who are ready to break some serious records and I think that will continue for the next few years”.
As an observer of the pole-vault, I have been intrigued by the apparent friendships which seem to transcend competition. I asked Katie and Sandi about it. Katie explained: “We are direct competitors but at the same time we are friends. It is a weird kind of relationship that you build with the other athletes. You really want them to do their best because at the end of the day it comes down to you and the bar. So what someone else does, doesn’t affect that. If you don’t have a good day you are bummed but you can still say, ‘Good for them” because it is not like they took it from you”.
Sandi added: “Pole vault does have a unique culture to it. It is really a community where we will help each other at competition. If someone’s poles go missing and they are the same size as yours, it is pretty typical for someone to let you borrow theirs. I think it is because you have so many elements against you that the athletes stand together. If you are all working together to jump high then everyone is likely to jump high and that is what you want. I think it is a very interesting dynamic where you are very supportive of each other and want to see each other do well”.
And finally the headline – Sandi Morris, who already has three pet snakes, is acquiring a pigmy monitor lizard for her personal zoo! She tells me monitor lizards are outgoing and friendly. I’ll take her word for it.