Nina Kennedy breaks pole vault record
16 February 2015
ATHLETICS: Seventeen-year-old Nina Kennedy (WA) is the toast of international athletics after her performance of 4.59m to win at the Jandakot City Track Classic in Perth (WA), the biggest ever leap by an under 20 aged athlete outdoors.
Eclipsing the previous best ever mark by one centimetre, the performance is also an Australian under 20 record and a qualifier for the open-aged IAAF World Championships in Beijing (CHN), where, if selected, the young-gun will likely be the youngest on the Australian Flame team.
“Oh my god, I’m speechless,” Kennedy said.
“My main goal was 4.50m, and when I cleared that I decided that I had nothing to lose so I took the bar to 4.59m and just hoped that I could do it. The crowd really helped me for sure. It has just given me so much confidence, all my training has paid off and there are still so many opportunities to come.”
“I just have to work toward Nationals now, and then hopefully I’ll have the chance to go to the World Championships. That’ll be amazing. I’m still a junior, and with World Juniors not until next year the chance to go to Beijing is now a reality, and then next year I think I can do better than just mix with the girls my age.”
Coached by Alex Parnov at the Western Australia Institute of Sport, Kennedy is an IAAF World Youth and IAAF World Junior Championships finalist. She had already bettered her career best in 2015 on one other occasion, with a leap of 4.41m coming last month.
She will now shift her focus to the Adelaide Track Classic next weekend, before competition at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships, the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge and the 93rd Australian Athletics Championships.
Kennedy's fellow home-town hero Kim Mickle (WA) has also delivered one of the performances of the night in the women’s javelin.
Hitting a world leading mark of 63.87m on her second attempt, the Commonwealth champion and Australian record holder Mickle was able to out-class her Glasgow 2014 teammates of Kelsey Lee-Roberts (ACT) and Kathryn Mitchell (Vic) to achieve her first qualifier for the IAAF World Championships.
“That was great. I was really hoping to hit a qualifier, and when we first rocked up out there tonight I thought that it was going to be very hard to get given the conditions. The body isn’t feeling great and the preparation hasn’t been wonderful at all so to throw that throw was probably a miracle,” Mickle said.
“That would probably be the toughest event that I have ever done in terms of where my body is at in terms of throwing. I’m not hugely injured or anything, I have thrown with broken ribs and things before, but I’ve had to push through barriers to be here and I’m super stoked to have won the comp and joined the other girls on the qualifier list.”
Mickle is scheduled to again compete at the Adelaide Track Classic next weekend but will consult her medical team before making a final decision on her start after what has been a difficult build up to competing on the Australian Athletics Tour. That said, she hopes that with good treatment she’ll again be afforded the chance to face-off with her domestic rivals Mitchell and Roberts.
“Next time the girls are together it is going to be another great event. It always is. I had to get the qualifier out there because I didn’t want to be left behind after their big throws last week. I’ve nabbed them tonight by about 10 centimetres and obviously they’ll be looking to get past me again when we next throw in Adelaide,” Mickle added.
Mickle’s fellow thrower Guy Henly (NSW) also shone, with the para-athlete hitting a new Australian record of 53.99m in the men’s ambulant discus throw. The performance is also an ‘A’ Qualifier for the IPC Athletics World Championships later this year and a two-metre improvement on his previous personal best.
On the track, national record holder Melissa Breen (ACT) won the sprint double of the women’s 100m and 200m. Stopping the clock in 11.41 (w: +2.8) in the shorter sprint, Breen returned to the track in the final event of the night to win the 200m in a time of 23.75 (w: +2.8).
Michelle Jenneke (NSW) made it two wins from two starts this Australian Athletics Tour in the women’s 100m hurdles. Stopping the clock at 13.11 (w: +2.3), the performance was her second fastest ever after the personal best of 13.04 she ran at the Canberra Track Classic last weekend.
The next challenge for the IAAF World Junior Championships finalist will come in three weeks’ time when she faces off with Olympic champion Sally Pearson (Qld) for the first time in 2015. Pearson is set to launch her assault on the hurdles at the Queensland Track Classic and could provide the continually improving Jenneke with the competition required to deliver her first qualifier for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing (CHN).
In other results at the Jandakot City Track Classic:
- A London 2012 Olympic finalist and two-time NCAA Division 1 champion, Julian Wruck (Qld) threw 62.60m to win the men’s discus throw from Matthew Denny (Qld, second, 59.30m). It was Wruck’s second Australian Athletics Tour victory this season after he won at the Hunter Track Classic last month.
- Competing for the first time on the Australian Athletics Tour, IAAF World Junior Championships representative Kurtis Marschall (SA) soared to 5.20m to win on countback from Australian All-Schools silver medallist Angus Armstrong (NSW, second, 5.20m).
- Delivering back-to-back victories in the men’s long jump on the Australian Athletics Tour, Robbie Crowther (Qld) leapt 7.86m (w: +3.7) in very gusty conditions to place first.
- Zak Patterson (Vic), who placed second in the 1500m at the Hunter Track Classic, won the Herb Elliott Mile in a time of 4:01.88, with Marc See (WA, 4:02.31) second and James Hansen (Vic, 4:02.65) third.
- Clocking 21.21 (w: +3.0), Alexander Hartmann (Qld) made it back-to-back wins in the men’s 200m after he took line honours at the Canberra Track Classic and again tonight in Perth.
- Caitlin Sargent (Qld) crossed first in the women’s 400m in 53.26. National champion Morgan Mitchell (Vic) was second (53.64) and Anneliese Rubie (NSW) and Lyndsay Pekin (WA) sharing third (54.20).
The Australian Athletics Tour now moves to Adelaide (SA) on Saturday 21 February, with Kennedy and Mickle set to headline the field events alongside Commonwealth discus champion Dani Samuels (NSW). Glasgow 2014 marathon bronze medallist Jess Trengove (SA) will start in the women’s 3000m.
For more information on the Adelaide Track Classic, please click here.