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BY STUART WEIR
 
A great pole vault competition.
 
There have been many great events this weekend but it’s hard to think of a more exciting competition than the women's pole vault. Christian Coleman had to "work" for just over 6 seconds to win his 60m gold medal. Sandi Morris was out there for 3 hours to win hers.
 
Two streaks came to an end. Katerina Stefanidi, the reigning World outdoor and Olympic champion, was finally beaten after a winning streak of 19 competitions. Sandi Morris broke a less welcome streak - silver at the Worlds Championships (indoor and outdoor) and the Olympics.
 
Pole vault involves running with a pole and vaulting over a high bar. It involves a lot more than that! An elite competition is often two competitions in one, with the event over for some athletes before others have started. When Stefanidi entered the competition at 4.70, others had been jumping for an hour and a quarter. When Stefanidi cleared 4.70 and moved on to 4.75, only six competitors of the original 12 were still standing - or still vaulting.
 
Morris recently explained to me her approach to the tactics of the event: "The general rule of thumb for me has been to enter the competition about 30 centimeters under my PB. At this point, with my PB at 5.00m, that’s still pretty high so I like to enter the competition at 4.40m or 4.50m. [In Birmingham she came in at 4.50.] If I’m feeling really good, I may pass a bar. It really depends on an athlete's confidence because that really is the key to making bars at the first attempt: trusting that you are doing the right thing. Having the right coaching, what pole to start with and so on, are also factors. You also go off your warm-up. If I have a bad warm-up, I might come in a bit lower and jump more bars to get myself into a rhythm. That is my tactic.”
Published in Track & Field
By David Hunter, March 26, 2017
A successful track & field athlete needs several critical traits: natural talent; a disciplined work ethic; a reliable support system; knowledgeable coaching; an unflappable demeanor; an unshakeable focus; and - among the most important - an engrained sense of motivation which inspires the athlete to employ all of those other characteristics in the quest to achieve the targeted track & field goal. A survey of the current marquee track & field athletes suggests that Ekaterina Stefanidi, reigning Olympic and Diamond League pole vault champion, is among those few athletes who receive high marks in virtually all of these categories - especially motivation.
Published in Track & Field