Pole vaulter Nina Kennedy has claimed Australia’s first medal of the 2022 Athletics World Championship in Oregon after a stunning jump that was just short of her own national record.

Kennedy claimed bronze behind Americans Katie Nageotte and Sandi Morris in the final, vaulting 4.80m — just 5cm behind the US pair.

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On their home soil, current Olympic champion Nageotte claimed gold, soaring over 4.85m on her first attempt, while Morris managed the height on her second attempt.

But Kennedy bounced back from a horror Olympic campaign to make her the raging hot favourite to win the event in Birmingham at the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

The 25-year-old follows in the footsteps of Tatiana Grigorieva, who claimed Australia’s first women’s pole vaulting medal at the 1999 World Championships in Seville.

Kennedy’s 4.80m equalled the highest leap by an Aussie ever at an international championship and was just 2cm off her own Australian record. Devastatingly, she just clipped the bar at 4.85m.

Kennedy then passed her last attempt at 4.85m to go for gold at 4.90m but wasn’t able to pull it off.

“I’m so happy with a bronze,” Kennedy said. “It definitely gives me confidence going into the next few years ahead. Those girls are in their 30s. I’m still 25 so I have a few more years to crack that 90 bar.

“I think as athletes we are so used to wanting more but I’m going to soak this up. A bronze medal on the world stage is absolutely incredible and I think I’m going to enjoy this feeling for the next few days and next few weeks.”

A bronze medallist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Kennedy’s Tokyo Olympics campaign was ruined when she tore her calf muscle and suffered an adductor and quadricep injury.

She was then deemed a close Covid contact and was forced into isolation when arriving in Japan. She finished 12th at the Games.

Kennedy’s stunning performance highlighted a great day for Australia as our track and field stars continue to make inroads on the international stage.

Stewart McSweyn, who suffered terribly from complications to Covid vaccines earlier this year, stormed his way into the 1500m final with a spine-tingling semi-final performance that sets him up as a medal hope.

Australia’s other major medal chance in the 1500m, Ollie Hoare, was surprisingly run out in the semi, just missing the final.

McSweyn ran a gallant 3:35 in the semi and will make it a battle of attrition in the final.

On the women’s side Australia has two runners in the 1500m, with Jess Hull making the final and looking extremely smooth, while young gun Georgia Griffiths also charged through after an impressive race.

In the men’s 400m, Australia’s Alex Beck ran his way into a semi-final, clocking 45.99sec, while Matthew Denny is into the discus final after being 4th overall after qualifying with his 66.98m. He looms as a medal chance.

The men’s and women’s 100m finals resulted in clean sweeps – for Jamaica in the women’s and the United States in the men’s.

Fred Kerley won gold for the US on Sunday while Monday’s women’s final was a race for the ages and the oldest lady in the field saluted.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, in an outside lane, threw her right arm in the air as she crossed the line. She knew, even though the underdog this time, that age hadn’t wearied her 36-year-old legs.

Fraser-Pryce, a noted big time performer and multiple World Champion, clocked 10.67sec to beat compatriot Shericka Jackson (10.73), with Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah third in 10.81s.

Those three Jamaican superstars filled the top three spots at last year’s Tokyo Olympics too, but in a different order.

Defending World 200m Champion Dina Asher-Smith of England was 4th in the 100m final, making for a tantalising prospect if all four runners turn up to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The men’s marathon was taken out by Tamirat Tola in 2hr 5min and 36sec. The Ethiopian surged uphill late in the race to break the hearts of his rivals.

The men’s 110m hurdles was a muddling affair with the Olympic champion scratching just before the start, and two others including newly signed Philadelphia Eagles speedster Devon Allen being sensationally disqualified moments prior to the gun going off – leaving just five runners to cross the wire.

Grant Holloway from the US landed the gold in 13.03sec.

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