World indoor record-holder Jenn Suhr surprisingly failed to qualify for Sunday’s pole vault final, while the favourite, Ekaterini Stefanidi, needed just one vault to secure her place.
Stefanidi, the Olympic and European champion, entered the competition at the automatic qualifying height of 4.60m, knowing that a single clearance would be enough to make the final. That was because the bar had reached 4.55m in each of the two qualifying pools, with only eight athletes remaining.
The Greek champion sailed over the bar with ease, displaying the form that has seen her clear a world-leading 4.85m.
Stefanidi knew by that stage that Suhr would not be joining her in two days’ time. The 2012 Olympic champion has a best of 4.83m this season, but that was back in April and in her two most recent competitions, both in June, she had failed to clear 4.65m in finishing second on both occasions.
Despite that recent record, Suhr didn’t enter the competition until the bar was set at 4.55m and the 35-year-old was found wanting at the height that all but nine of the 30 competitors also failed to overcome.
Alongside Stefanidi, eight others cleared 4.55m, including the USA’s Sandi Morris, Venezuela’s Robeiylis Peinado and Germany’s European silver medallist Lisa Ryzih. Those three progressed with perfect records and Morris, in particular, looks in fine form.
The latter took silver in Rio last year and has a season’s best of 4.84m, just one centimetre behind Stefanidi. The 25-year-old also jumped 5.00m last year, 10 centimetres higher than the Greek athlete has achieved indoors or out.
Peinado is the current South American champion following a win in Paraguay in June and is clearly full of confidence. The 2013 world U18 champion shared first place in pool A, clearing first time at all four heights from 4.20m, the opener, onwards. She, Sweden’s Angelica Bengtsson and Olga Mullina were the only three athletes who attempted the first bar of the competition to go on to qualify.
Olympic bronze medallist Eliza McCartney had a less successful evening, failing at 4.55m and only making the final on countback at the expense of Switzerland’s Angelica Moser.
Moser took one attempt more than the New Zealander at 4.50m and can, perhaps, count herself unfortunate not to be competing on Sunday.
Reigning champion Yarisley Silva of Cuba failed once at 4.55m, but otherwise progressed untroubled, while the home favourite Holly Bradshaw only required one attempt at her opening height, 4.50m, to qualify, much to the delight of the supporters in the stadium, who greeted that success with a roar.
Dean Hardman for the IAAF