Magic Moments: Stefanidi hits the heights in Belgrade

Ekaterini Stefanidi at the Belgrade 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships
European Athletics

Ekaterini Stefanidi at the Belgrade 2017 European Athletics Indoor Championships

When you have set a standard for yourself, now comes the hard bit. How can you match it or even improve upon it?

Nevertheless, pole vaulter Ekaterini Stefanidi can safely feel that 2017 was the year she maintained her adherence to the gold standard she had joined in 2016, starting with a brilliant performance to win at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March.

Two years earlier in Prague, Stefanidi had won silver in this particular competition but since the start of the following summer she moved upwards to become the best female vaulter in the world and achieved Rio 2016 Olympic Games glory.

Now back under cover, Stefanidi put on another great show at the Kombank Arena in the Serbian capital.

She did have a slightly shaky start though as she knocked the bar down at 4.55m on the first attempt before going clear with her second go. After going over 4.65m at the first time of asking, she then passed at 4.70m and 4.75m before fine clearances at 4.80m and 4.85m took her to victory by 10cm with a world-leading mark.

Stefanidi, 27, missed out on her three attempts at a Greek record of 4.91m but there was so much more to come from her as the year progressed.

Fittingly, it was that Greek record height of 4.91m which brought world championship gold in London in August, during a summer in which she was unbeaten including a win at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels.

Her run of success during 2017 saw Stefanidi named the female European Athlete of the Year at the Golden Track awards in October, her glory being honoured in a year which had begun so brilliantly with an enthralling display in Belgrade.