BEIJING (Reuters) - Cuba’s Yarisley Silva needed a jump of 4.90 meters to win a thrilling women’s pole vault contest and claim her first major global title at the world championships on Wednesday.
Pushed all the way by Brazil’s Fabiana Murer and Greece’s Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou, the London Olympic silver medalist won gold with her third attempt at the winning height before failing three times at 5.01m.
“This was one of the hardest competitions of my career. It was a very close competition with Fabiana and Nikoleta,” said the 28-year-old.
“Fabiana is getting better and better and always pushes me. It is always emotional to compete with her.”
Silva needed all three goes to get over at 4.70 and join an unprecedented seven women going for 4.80.
Murer and Silva cleared 4.85 at the first attempt to ultimately leave Kyriakopoulou with bronze.
With the noisy crowd roaring her on, Silva slid over the bar at 4.90 to win the title.
“This is the result of a lot of sacrifices, hard work and dedication,” Silva added. “Now I want to do everything to get the Olympic gold in Rio.”
That will also clearly be the plan for silver medalist Murer, one of her country’s best hopes of a gold medal in athletics at next year’s Olympics.
Her clearance at 4.85 matched the South American record and personal best she jumped to win gold in Deagu four years ago.
“The Olympics will be in Rio in less than a year,” she said. “I have to stay healthy and am looking forward to my home crowd then.”
Kyriakopoulou was happy with bronze and thought competing with her fellow medalists would drive them all to improve.
”I am not afraid,“ she said. ”I want to stay at the top and get higher and higher because I expected an even better performance here.
“I hope I will get more support from sponsors after this medal because it is not easy for an athlete nowadays in Greece.”
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ken Ferris