It may not have been one of the Diamond Race disciplines at the Weltklasse meeting, but the women’s pole vault captivated a crowd of about 2000 people at Zurich Main Station on the eve of the first of two IAAF Diamond League finals on Wednesday (31).
In a close competition, Britain’s Holly Bradshaw pulled off a surprise victory by defeating Olympic champion Ekaterini Stefanidi and Olympic silver medallist Sandi Morris with a series of first-time clearances up to and including 4.76m.
Switzerland’s world U20 champion Angelica Moser was the first to exit the competition after three misses at what would have been a PB of 4.51m. Germany’s Martina Strutz and Swiss record-holder Nicole Buchler also bowed out of the competition at that height.
Bradshaw, vaulting to ‘Piece Of Me’ by MK and Becky Hill, moved into an early lead after first-time clearances at 4.51m and 4.61m, with Morris matching her record at those heights.
In her first competition since winning the Olympic title, Stefanidi brought down the bar on her opening attempt at 4.61m but sailed well clear of it on her second try.
With Slovenia’s Tina Sutej, Germany’s Lisa Ryzih and Jirina Ptacnikova of the Czech Republic all failing to get over 4.61m, it left just three women in the competition.
Bradshaw maintained her lead by sailing over a season’s best of 4.71m on her first try. Morris and Stefanidi, though, both needed two attempts to clear it, giving the Briton the outright lead.
A first-time 4.76m clearance from Bradshaw – a Swiss indoor all-comers’ record and her best vault for more than three years – kept the pressure on the two Olympic medallists. Morris, jumping to ‘Levels’ by Avicii, also got over it on her first try, while Stefanidi passed to 4.81m, but both women still trailed Bradshaw.
A miss at 4.81m for Bradshaw threw a lifeline to Morris and Stefanidi. Morris got over it on her first try – or at least she had appeared to, until the bar dropped down on the US vaulter a couple of seconds after she landed. Stefanidi, competing to a blast of ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, then also failed her opening attempt.
In the second round of tries at that height, Bradshaw was closest but all three women missed again. The 2013 European indoor champion then left the competition after a third narrow failure at 4.81m, leaving Morris and Stefanidi with one attempt each to try to take the victory.
Both women were unsuccessful, though, meaning Bradshaw held on to the victory.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF