This is Sam Fariss’s column on the superb and heartwarming pole vault competition.

Budapest WACs 2023 Day 5: US women represent in pole vault final


BUDAPEST – The United States has the top-ranked female pole vaulter this season in Katie Moon, but the country’s talent in the field event doesn’t end with her. Team USA sent four athletes to the final round of pole vault at the world champs this year, taking up a third of the qualifying spots.

Bridget Williams, Sandi Morris, and Hana Moll joined their compatriot Moon in the final round of competition on day five of the Budapest World Athletics Championships. Moon, the 2022 pole vault champion, defended her world title but with a slight twist.

Only two of the Americans cleared the starting height of 4.50 meters, Hana Moll and Bridget Williams falling short in their three attempts. Meanwhile, Moon seemed to effortlessly pass over the bar to move on to the next round of attempts.

When officials were done raising the height to 4.65 meters, Moon seemed at ease and sailed over the bar. Morris, who had made it over the first height, failed to clear the new one in her three attempts, making Moon the remaining Team USA member.

Nina Kennedy shares the gold with Keith Moon, photo by Kevin Morris

At the next height of 4.75 meters, Moon did not move. She had decided to pass on her attempts and wait it out as the rest of the field battled over the bar.

While others struggled, Moon looked like she had found her rhythm, clearing 4.80 meters on her second attempt and 4.85 meters on her first try.

As the competition continued and the field thinned, it was down to Moon and Australian Nina Kennedy. Kennedy is the Australian record holder in the event and has represented her country at the Olympics but failed to land atop the podium before.

Both women cleared their 4.90-meter on their second attempts but couldn’t quite figure out their vaults at 4.95 meters. After three tries each, the pair decided to share the gold medal win and the world title instead of the athletes going to a jump-off.

It looked as though Moon approached Kennedy, and there was an exchange between the two. “Do you want to?” Moon appeared to ask.

Katie Moon, photo by Kevin Morris

Shocked, it seemed like Kennedy replied with a simple, “Really?!”

Kennedy broke down in tears after the athletes came to the agreement, seemingly overcome with joy and awe. Along with those incredible honors, they also now share the world-leading height in women’s pole vault for this season.

This is Moon’s third straight world title and Kennedy’s first of her career. Finland’s Wilma Murto finished in 3rd place, tying her season best of 4.80 meters.

This was the first time in history that the United States sent four women to the pole vault final. Now over halfway through the week, the United States claims 14 medals, leading the pack by five golds, Great Britain and Spain each with two, and 10 total medals, GB also has a silver and bronze in their collection.