Olympic champion bounces back as USA takes pole vault one-two, while Thiam closes in on heptathlon gold
Katie Nageotte admits that, since becoming Olympic pole vault champion last year, her relationship with her chosen profession has not been an easy one. As recently as two months ago, in fact, she was seriously considering retirement from the sport.
“Every day I would come in [to training] feeling defeated, feeling unmotivated,” she said. Taking the opportunities which had come her way in the aftermath of Tokyo success had left her feeling mentally drained. Anxieties – even a fear factor over her event – had begun to creep in.
To slowly build herself back up and then win the world title in Eugene, in front of a fascinated Hayward Field crowd, therefore, meant everything to the 31-year-old American.
A first-time clearance of 4.85m, some 20cm higher than the season’s outdoor best which won her the US title earlier this summer and also a world lead, got the job done. Her compatriot and training partner Sandi Morris cleared the same height but, crucially, at the second time of asking. It meant she had to settle with her third consecutive silver medal in this event.
Neither athlete was able to go higher, while Australia’s Nina Kennedy landed bronze with a best of 4.81m.
“I tried to kind of block out earlier in the year, the negativity and anxiety as much as possible,” said Nageotte. “I tried to look at the goal as much as possible. Coming in here for the [US] trials, I felt really good and tried to build on it, on the wins, I felt good again and each jump is a new jump.”
Thiam on form to tee up heptathlon climax
Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam was in her accustomed position of leading the women’s heptathlon competition at the close of an intriguing day one.
Day two is beautifully poised after the Belgian accumulated a total of 4071 points to hold a 61-point advantage over Tokyo silver medallist Anouk Vetter (4010).
The 21-year-old American Anna Hall, clearly revelling in the attention and support from the home crowd, is in the bronze medal position on 3991 while Britain’s defending champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson is sixth on 3798.
Thiam started the day as she meant to go on, clocking a PB of 13.21 in the 100m hurdles before equalling the championships best for the heptathlon high jump with 1.95m then throwing a season’s best 15.03m in the shot. She was then ninth-fastest overall in the 200m with 24.39 (1.5).
Johnson-Thompson was 13th fastest in the hurdles with 13.55, then only managed a best height of 1.83m in the high jump – some 15cm below her personal best – before being 12th in the shot with 12.92m. Her 200m time of 23.62 (1.4) was second-fastest overall and moved her up one place with the long jump, javelin and 800m events to come.
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