Ekaterini Stefanidi extended her unbeaten streak to 13 competitions in Zurich on Wednesday evening but the 27-year-old needed to be at the top of her game to defeat Sandi Morris in an exciting tete-a-tete contest staged in the city’s Hauptbahnhof.
Morris needed three attempts at 4.72m but the American moved into the ascendency with a first-time clearance at 4.82m. Stefanidi recorded her first failure of the competition at that height and the reigning world, Olympic and European champion subsequently eschewed her two remaining attempts.
The bar was then raised to 4.87m - a height that Stefanidi had only surpassed twice in her career - but the Greek showed her competitive mettle, clearing the next height on her first attempt to regain the lead on countback ahead of Morris, who matched Stefanidi with a first time clearance.
The next height of 4.92m - a would-be world-leading mark - proved beyond their capacity but Stefanidi and Morris are set to go head-to-head again in the Brussels Diamond League on 1 September. In last year’s meet, Morris became just the second vaulter in history to surpass the five metre-barrier outdoors but it is Stefanidi who has the upper hand this season.
"We work very hard on my technique, my run-up and my jump, so it helps with my confidence. That's helped this year," Stefanidi told the IAAF after the competition.
Katie Nageotte added seven centimetres to her lifetime best, clearing 4.72m to finish third with Great Britain’s Holly Bradshaw and Switzerland’s Nicole Buchler among a quartet of vaulters to finish equal fourth with 4.62m by virtue of identical cards.
Truly incredible and filled with ! Thank you https://t.co/ZcnwszYp2k
— Katerina Stefanidi (@KatStefanidi) August 23, 2017