Even with the absence of world indoor and outdoor champion Yarisley Silva, the women’s pole vault is set to be one of the most exciting events this weekend in Portland.
At the end of January, world indoor record-holder Jenn Suhr upped her lifetime best to 5.03m at a small meeting in New York. She was initially unsure about competing in Portland, given the close proximity of the US Indoor Championships and the IAAF World Indoor Championships, but after finishing second at the former event with 4.90m, she has confirmed that she will compete.
Five other women this year have cleared 4.80m or higher, indoors or out. Sandi Morris underlined her medal potential by winning the US title with 4.95m ahead of Suhr (4.90m) and Demi Payne (4.85m). Such is the USA’s depth this year, they will be leaving behind Payne, who cleared 4.90m last month.
Greece’s Ekaterini Stefanidi also went over 4.90m at the Millrose Games to beat Payne on count-back. A similar performance in Portland could be enough for a medal.
Stefanidi’s compatriot Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou set a Greek record of 4.81m in Stockholm before Stefanidi broke it three days later. World bronze medallist Kyriakopoulou is highly consistent and has finished in the top three in all of her competitions from mid-June 2015.
Oceania’s two best vaulters hope to repeat their fine form displayed outdoors earlier this season. Australia’s Alana Boyd set an area record of 4.77m in late January, before New Zealand’s 19-year-old Eliza McCartney improved it to 4.80m in March.
Brazil’s 2010 world indoor champion Fabiana Murer should also be among the top medal contenders. Despite a modest 4.71m season’s best, she has shown throughout her career that she can peak at the right time and the right place.
Nicole Buchler, fresh from setting a Swiss record of 4.75m, should also be in the mix for the top places.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF