Stuart Weir wrote this piece on the women’s pole vault. Enjoy the piece and the amazing photos by Getty Images for British Athletics. The women’s pole vault is one of the most watched events in global athletics.
Holly Bradshaw tweeted on Saturday: “When you wake up remembering you only have to wait until Sunday to compete in front of another amazing home crowd!
Holly Bradshaw, photo by Getty Images/ British Athletics
Sadly by Sunday afternoon, Katie Nageotte had tweeted a screen from Mary Poppins (I think) of people being blown off their feet and flying, with the caption: “Actual footage of us on the runway today…” The wind had ruined the competition.
The bare facts are that of nine vaulters, one failed to clear a bar. Four cleared 4.55 but failed at 4.65. Alysha Newman (second), Yarisley Silva and Jen Suhr (joint third) cleared 4.65. Only Katerina Stefanidi cleared 4.75. She had one go at 4.85 and then retired.
When I asked Stefanidi if it was true that the wind had ruined the competition, she replied: “Yes but we expect it in Birmingham. I think there was only one year (2016) when we had OK conditions. Not good but OK”.
Being the great competitor that she is, she added: “I jumped 4.75 today which shows the kind of form I am in. And before the big bars come, before the medals and the championships, you need to be consistent and you have to jump 4.70 and 4.75 bars in bad conditions. I think this is what builds confidence and you just know that when you get to the competitions you can get the higher bars”.
Like Bradshaw (below) Stefanidi talked about personal safety. More than once she had to abort a vault as the wind blew the bar off. She confirmed that it was disconcerting to be worrying about whether the bar might fall off, adding: “that is why I decided to stop at 4.85. I think I am already a little bit scared of the bar. They were putting string round it – I have never had that happened before – so that they can hold it in the wind. And I thought what if I get tangled in the bar if they are not letting it fall? I just thought it is not worth the risk of injury”.
Bradshaw commented afterwards on the competition and the conditions: “I’m really happy with my performance. I decided to go from 10 steps instead of 14 because the conditions were blustery and I’m just not prepared to take any risks six weeks from the World Championships. There was no point in risking getting injured this close. 4.55m from ten steps I’m happy about and I feel that I’ve taken a step forward with my confidence and would’ve taken a step back if I had gone from 14 steps.
“Hopefully the conditions are a bit better next week [British Championships], but I love jumping out there because of the crowd. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to jump today because for me it’s not worth the risk, but the crowd were incredible and really got behind me. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to jump in front of a home crowd”.
Newman also commented from experience of the Birmingham weather: “I’m happy I cleared 4.65m on my first attempt. I’ve been here in the past so I knew the winds were a little swirly so today was about trying to come here and get first clears”.
What a shame that a great competition was rather spoiled.