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Commonwealth Games: Nina Kennedy takes pole vault title after clearing four.60m in final

Nina Kennedy has restored Australian supremacy in the Commonwealth Games women’s pole vault with a dominant display in Birmingham.

Two weeks after hanging tough to win the bronze medal at the world championships in Eugene, Kennedy did it much easier at Alexander Stadium.

Her winning height of 4.60m was 20cm less than what was required to claim third spot at the world titles.

Australians have now won the women’s pole vault on six of the seven occasions it has been contested at Commonwealth level — a sequence broken only when Canadian Alysha Newman saluted four years ago on the Gold Coast.

Newman was forced to pull out early in Tuesday’s final due to a leg injury.

With Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Holly Bradshaw, from England, also a last-minute withdrawal due to injuries when she snapped her pole mid-vault in Eugene, there was no one left in the field with a personal best anywhere near Kennedy’s 4.82m.

As such, it shaped as something of a one-horse race.

And so it proved.

So confident was Kennedy that she passed at 4.50m when any clearance at that height would have been good enough for gold.

It proved academic for the West Australian, who soared over 4.60m at the second attempt.

To the delight of the crowd, Kennedy defied tricky windy conditions to then have three unsuccessful cracks at what would have been a new Commonwealth record of 4.76m.

England’s Molly Caudery claimed the silver on countback ahead of New Zealand’s Imogen Ayris after both cleared 4.45m.

The first Australian to win a medal in the 2022 Games at Alexander Stadium was para-athletics sprinter Rhiannon Clarke who was third in the women’s T37/38 final won by Olivia Breen from Wales in 12.83.

Clarke clocked 13.13.

Earlier on day one of the main track and field program at Alexander Stadium, Rohan Browning made a welcome return to form in the men’s 100m.

Two weeks after being run out in the opening-round of the blue-riband sprint at the world championships in Eugene, the 24-year-old stormed into the semifinals with the equal-fourth fastest qualifying time of 10.10 seconds.

“I have struggled a bit on the circuit this year and the losses really started to pile up,” the 24-year-old said.

“But I knew I had a run like that in me.”

Compatriots Jake Doran, Bree Masters and Naa Anang also advanced to the men’s and women’s 100m semis on Wednesday.

COMMONWEALTH WOMEN’S POLE VAULT CHAMPIONS

1998 – Emma George (Aus)

2002 – Tatiana Grigorieva (Aus)

2006 – Kym Howe (Aus)

2010 – Alana Boyd (Aus)

2014 – Alana Boyd (Aus)

2018 – Alysha Newman (Can)

2022 – Nina Kennedy (Aus)

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