Competing in front of her home fans for the first time since picking up her first senior global medal at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Ekaterini Stefanidi delivered another polished performance at the Athens Pole Vault Meeting on 10 May.
The only disappointment for the crowds gathered in Syntagma Square was the late withdrawal of Stefanidi’s long-time domestic rival Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou due to a small injury. The anticipated head-to-head might have to wait until next year’s competition but Stefanidi still put on a great show for the crowd in the Greek capital.
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Stefanidi entered the competition with a first-time clearance at 4.40m before passing the next height. Venezuelan teenager Rosbeilys Peinado kept the contest alive by clearing 4.50m on her third attempt but Stefanidi responded brilliantly, sailing over 4.55m and 4.65m on her first attempts to win by two clear heights.
Fresh from setting an outdoor lifetime best of 4.73m in the Doha Diamond League on Friday evening, Stefanidi raised the bar by one centimetre but that height proved beyond her capacity, although it should come soon.
After all, the 26-year-old cleared 4.90m indoors in February and followed that up with a 4.80m clearance to win bronze in Portland behind Americans Sandi Morris and world indoor record-holder Jenn Suhr.
The men’s pole vault was a closely contested affair between two vaulters who will be in the hunt for medals at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam in July: home favourite Konstadinos Filippidis and world indoor and outdoor bronze medallist Piotr Lisek from Poland.
The honours were very nearly split in Athens with both vaulters recording identical cards from their opening height of 5.45m until Filippidis - who directly followed Lisek in the vaulting order - sealed the competition with a clutch third-time clearance at 5.70m before three attempts at 5.80m.
Dimitrios Patsoukakis claimed third with 5.45m while world youth record-holder Emmanouil Karalis, regarded as the future of Greek pole vaulting, was seventh with 5.00m.