World pole vault champion Nina Kennedy scores podium finish at Doha Diamond League meet

World pole vault champion Nina Kennedy has launched back into Diamond League competition in impressive fashion, leading the way as four Olympic-bound Australian athletes made the podium in Doha.

Western Australian Kennedy, perhaps Australia’s top hope for track and field gold at the Paris Games, finished second in her first international competition of the year, beaten only on countback by Great Britain’s world indoor champion Molly Caudery.

There were also top-three finishes for Jess Hull, Matthew Denny and Eleanor Patterson in the third Diamond League meet of the season.

Both Kennedy and Caudery soared over 4.73 metres on their first attempts at the height to forge clear of the rest of the field.

But it was an early failure at 4.53m from Kennedy that prevented her eventually sharing the spoils with her UK rival as they both failed to clear 4.83m.

In difficult blustery conditions, though, Kennedy was satisfied with her form.

She says she is a different athlete after winning the world title in Budapest alongside American Katie Moon last year, as well as claiming victory at the Zürich Diamond League meet.

“I think my mindset has changed since winning the world title,” she said.

“This is my first competition back with the best girls in the world.

“I’m a little bit rusty but if anything has changed, it’s just that I have higher expectations of myself now.”

Hull enjoyed a physical battle in the women’s 1,500m, producing a stirring finish to clock 4:00.84 and finish second to Ethiopia’s Freweyni Hailu (4:00.42).

“I think we slowed down a lot in the middle and when it bunches like that it gets pretty rough with everyone trying to fight for the same position,” Hull said.

Denny delivered the second-best throw of his career with his first-round 69.02m effort that earned him the runner-up spot in the men’s discus behind Slovenian world champ Kristjan Čeh (70.48m).

Patterson, the 2022 world champion, cleared 1.91m at her final attempt in the women’s high jump, but finished third after being beaten on countback by Ukrainian Iryna Gerashchenko.

Serbian Angelina Topić won the event with a clearance of 1.94m.


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