It was a night of history and national celebration in the Ergo Arena. Never before had a Polish woman won gold at the IAAF World Indoor Championships and never before, in the 29-year history of the championships, had a title ever been shared.
Both firsts came to pass as a compelling final unfolded to leave Poland’s Kamila Licwinko, the 2013 World Student Games champion, and Russia’s prodigious Maria Kuchina, the world junior indoor record-holder and still just 21, top of the pile with identical records.
Both women had first-time clearances at 1.85m, 1.90m and 1.94m and required two attempts to negotiate 1.97m before nailing 2.00m at the first attempt, Licwinko equalling the national record she set earlier in the season.
Ruth Beita, the Spaniard competing in her eighth World Indoor Championships, reached 2.00m with a perfect card but a first-time failure at that height cost her the gold medal.
The 34-year-old cleared the height at the second attempt but was left with a bronze to match the one she won at the outdoor IAAF World Championships in Moscow last year. Beitia, Licwinko and Kuchina all proceeded to register three blanks at 2.02m.
A jump-off would normally have decided an outright winner but Licwinko and Kuchina, the 2010 Youth Olympic Games champion, were happy to settle for a share of the gold, which prompted wild celebrations from the proud Polish crowd.
Croatia’s two-time former world indoor champion Blanka Vlasic, returning to global championship competition for the first time for almost three years, then exited at 1.97m, together with Sweden’s Emma Green and St Lucia's Levern Spencer.
That left four women in the hunt for the medals.
Licwinko’s team-mate Justyna Kasprzycka cleared 1.97m, a personal best, but could go no higher. Still, with two women in the top four in the world and a gold medal winner, it was a night to remember for Polish track and field.
Simon Turnbull for the IAAF