| l-r Fabiana Murer, Yarisley Silva, Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou
BEIJING, CHINA - Even the absence of the great Elena Isinbaeva and a slightly off day for Jen Suhr couldn’t diminish the quality of the women’s pole vault competition on Wednesday evening at the 15 th IAAF World Track & Field Championships.
12 women were still vaulting past 14-9 – the most ever at a world championships – and seven continued past 15-5 – again the most ever. Five of those seven women clearing 15-5 even had clean slates – no misses in the competition. With no dominant favorite, it appeared than any of the competitors could medal, or even win on this night.
In the end, it was 28-year-old Cuban Yarisley Silva who prevailed. Silva twice came through on third attempt clearances, and her clutch vault over 16-0 ¾ moved her past Brazil’s Fabiana Murer into the gold medal spot on the podium. Murer, who was the champion indoors in Doha 2010 and outdoors in Daegu 2011, had to be content with the silver.
Greece’s Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou had her best night ever at a major championship. She was briefly in the lead, clearing 15-9 on her first try, before seeing Murer and Silva in turn get over 15-11 to jump back in front of her.
Americans Suhr and Sandi Morris tied for fourth place with Sweden’s Angelica Bengtsson. Morris, 23, is a rising star in the event, and well-known to those in attendance at Hayward Field for her outstanding performances at the NCAA and US Championships earlier this summer.
Just 16 years ago, at the Seville 1999 World Championships, Stacy Dragila set the world record at 15-1. That height has now become a routine clearance for the world’s top female vaulters, as was evidenced on this evening in Beijing, and the depth internationally is growing all the time.
Fortunately for U.S. track fans, the 2016 World Indoors in Portland will be an opportunity to see these women compete first-hand. Silva won gold in the last world indoors in Sopot, Poland, and said she loves the chance to compete in the indoor environment with no wind and weather conditions to deal with. Her plans are not yet set, but said she hoped to be in Oregon next March.
The veteran Murer, who has been vaulting for 18 years, said she plans to retire after the 2016 Summer Olympics in her native Brazil. But her Olympic year plans definitely include an appearance at the Moda Center on the first day of the championships.
“Of course, I will do indoors,” Murer said. “I want to be in Portland. I think it will be a nice competition for pole vault with one special day just for pole vault. I want to be there and it will be nice to compete with these girls again and with more girls, of course, and the (top) Americans.”
Kyriakopoulou was happy to have had the chance to “take my revenge” in the Birds Nest after not making the pole vault final at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She said right now she is focused on winning the Diamond League title in the upcoming Zurich Weltklasse Meet, but went on to say, “Next year, my second stop is in Portland for the World Indoor Championships and my third stop it will be Rio.”