After two-plus hours of competition on Wednesday, there was still no women’s pole vault winner at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest.
So American Katie Moon and Australia’s Nina Kennedy agreed to share gold. It’s the first time in the history of the World Athletics Championships that two gold medals were awarded in the same event. There was no silver medalist in the competition.
After bronze medalist Wilma Murto topped out at 4.8 meters, the competition came down to Moon and Kennedy. As Moon watched on, Kennedy set the high mark and an Australian record with a jump of 4.9 meters.
It’s a mark that matched Moon’s gold-medal winning performance at the Tokyo Olympics. Moon had a chance to match Kennedy. She succeeded with a vault that left the bar wobbling but intact.
She stood up beaming from her vault as the competition carried on. Next up for both competitors — 4.95 meters — a personal best for Moon that she set at the 2021 U.S. Olympic trials en route to her gold-medal performance in Tokyo.
But she didn’t match it on Wednesday. Neither did Kennedy. Both athletes tried and missed at 4.95 meters on three separate jumps. At that point the pair had a choice: go to a jump-off or agree to share gold.
With cameras focused on them, they met to for a conversation at the end of the track to figure out how to proceed. There, they smiled, shared a hug and came away from the meeting each with a share of the world championship.
“To win a gold medal, it is just a dream come true,” Kennedy said after the competition, per Reuters. “I knew I could get on the podium, but it was a miracle to get the gold. So I think a miracle happened tonight.”
Moon told reporters that she was satisfied with the outcome after a stirring competition with her rival.
“What a battle it was,” Moon said. “When it became obvious that only Nina and I were still jumping, the show had just started. I think we both motivated each other. When she had a good attempt, I also wanted to have it.
“It was tiring but worth the effort. What an amazing night. I hope everyone enjoyed that one. We did.”
While the shared gold is a first for the World Athletics Championships, it’s not unprecedented. Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi agreed to shared gold at the Tokyo Olympics under similar circumstances at the high-jump competition. Like Kennedy and Moon, they decided against a jump-off after remaining tied at the top of their competition.