Ekaterini Stefanidi in the pole vault at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Birmingham, UK

Preview: women's pole vault – IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018

For 12 months now, Katerina Stefanidi has been untouchable in the women’s pole vault.

Victory at the IAAF World Tour finale in Glasgow on Sunday took the 28-year-old Greek vaulter’s winning streak to 19 finals. Her last defeat dates back to 5 February last year, when she finished runner-up to Sandi Morris at the All Star Perche meeting at Clermont-Ferrand.

Within the space of the past two years, Stefanidi has won almost every major title on offer, taking European and Olympic gold in 2016, followed by European indoor and world titles in 2017.

In Glasgow, however, Stefanidi looked distinctly touchable in her final competition before challenging for the one title that has thus far eluded her. She needed two attempts to negotiate her opening height, 4.65m, and needed a third-time clearance at 4.75m to avoid losing to her Greek teammate Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou.

Stefanidi has a season’s best of 4.83m, from Leivin on 13 February. There have been seven higher clearances this year, shared among three of her rivals.

Katie Nageotte accomplished one of the upsets of the US Indoor Championships in Albuquerque on 18 February when she notched four PBs en route to a 4.91m world lead. In the process, she claimed the prized scalps of Jenn Suhr, the world indoor champion and 2012 Olympic gold medallist, and Morris, the woman from Fayetteville, Arkansas, who has become the bridesmaid of the event, with silvers from the World Indoor Championships and Olympic Games in 2016 and from the 2017 World Championships.

On Sunday, while Stefanidi was clinging on to her unbeaten record, Nageotte was busy proving that her Albuquerque performance wasn’t a one-off, beating the in-form Anzhelika Sidorova on countback with a 4.86m clearance at the All Star Perche meeting in Clermont-Ferrand.

The 27-year-old is coached by US record-holder Brad Walker and is not exactly an unknown quantity. She was fifth on the 2017 world outdoor list with 4.72m and at the Millrose Games in New York on 3 February she matched Stefanidi with a 4.71m clearance, losing on countback.

The field also includes 2014 European and 2015 European indoor champion Sidorova. The 2014 world indoor silver medallist, who will be competing as a neutral athlete, stands third on this year’s world list with 4.87m – behind Nageotte (4.91m) and Morris (4.90m).

Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, the 2014 world indoor and 2015 world outdoor champion, is another likely medal contender.

New Zealand’s Olympic bronze medallist Eliza McCartney has recently been having some timing issues, but if she manages to fix it in time for Birmingham, she could also challenge for medals.

Simon Turnbull for the IAAF