Two Australians were in action on the final day of competition at the IAAF World Indoor Championships.
It may have been freezing outside thanks to the European cold snap, but the pole vault competition inside Arena Birmingham was hot with over three hours of nail-biting tactics playing out in the air.
Kurtis Marschall (SA) shook off some early nerves, clearing an opening height of 5.45m on his second attempt. 5.60m proved no issue for the three-time Australian champion, and nor did it for the vast majority of the field with 12 of the 15 competitors gaining the clearance – a record for indoor competition.
“It was a super high-calibre competition, you were on your toes the entire time,” Marshall said.
Marschall moved into the lead as he sailed over the bar at 5.70m – the same height that reigning world indoor champion and world record holder, Renaud Lavillenie (Fra) chose to enter the competition, clearing comfortably.
Progressing to 5.80m, Marschall equalled his outdoor personal best and was joined by Emmanouíl Karalís (Gre) and Raphael Holzdeppe (Ger). Lavillenie returned to the competition at 5.85m clearing the height convincingly as did Sam Kendricks (USA) and Piotr Lisek (Pol). Missing his first shot at 5.85m, Marschall then chose to pass on a second attempt in a strategic move to put him in medal contention.
The first attempt at 5.90 proved unsuccessful for Marschall, but not so Lavillenie who went on to claim the gold medal and defend his world title. Kendricks and Lisek also had to be content with 5.85m. A second and final attempt at 5.90 was mistimed, Marschall claiming fourth place in his world indoors debut.
“It’s evidence that I’m supposed to be here, and I’m very happy to be a part of this unique crowd,” Marschall said before leaving the Arena.
“Coming fourth at the world indoors is ridiculous, I couldn’t ask for anything better,” the 20-year-old continued. “I thought it would take a little bit more than 5.80m but very stoked to jump equal PB and to come fourth is the icing on the cake. I don’t even mind that I just missed the medals.”
Marschall will now look to the Commonwealth Games next month.
“It was a very strategic competition, a lot of tactics at play but I enjoyed every minute of it. Everyone else jumped really well, and it’s a really good stepping stone coming back for Commonwealth Games. I was hesitant in coming over, but mixing it with the top boys, you can’t get this experience anywhere else in the world.”
Earlier, Nick Hough (NSW) got the final day of competition at the IAAF World Championships underway in the opening semi-final of the 60m hurdles.
The first two finishers in each of the three semi’s would progress to the final, with the next two fastest times also earning a start.
Out to a good start, Hough was level with the field before Aurel Manga (Fra) and Jarret Eaton (USA) edged ahead. Manga, crossing the finish line in 7.55 would maintain a slight advantage over the Frenchman to win. Hough finished in 7th place.
In the final, Great Britain’s Andrew Pozzi won the gold (7.46) in a photo finish from Eaton with Manga, third.