Greece’s longtime champion Katerina Stefanidi came in a heartbreaking fourth in the finals of women’s pole vault at the Tokyo Olympics with a jump of 4.8 meters (15.47 feet)
Katie Nageotte from the United States was the only vaulter who cleared the bar at 4.90 meters (16.07 feet) after Holly Bradshaw from Great Britain, defending champion Katerina Stefanidi, and world champion Anzhelika Sidorova from the Russian Olympic Committee all failed at that height.
Sidorova had one attempt at 4.95, her world championships-winning height, but she missed.
The gold went to Nageotte, the silver to Sidorova, and the bronze to Bradshaw. Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou managed to rank eighth in the same finals with a vault measuring 4.5 meters (14.76 feet).
Who is Katerina Stefanidi?
Stefanidi won the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games with a jump of 4.85 meters.
She had also competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, without winning any medal, however.
She was the European Outdoor champion in 2018 and a Diamond League champion of 2019. Stefanidi is also a World Outdoor champion, a European Indoor champion, and a two-time World Indoor bronze medalist, making her the most successful Greek pole vaulter in recent years.
Stefanidi, who has won a total of ten medals in all five major international athletics championships, was named the European Women’s Athlete of the Year in 2017.
She was also the Greek Female Athlete of the Year both in 2017 and 2019.
Because of her extraordinary achievements, she is widely regarded as the greatest female athlete in the history of Greek sport in general and not just in the pole vault.
Stefanidi is married to Mitchell Krier, a pole vaulter himself, who is Stefanidi’s coach. They both live in the United States.
Who is Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou?
Kyriakopoulou is a 35-year-old Greek champion who won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Beijing in 2015 jumping at 4.80 meters.
During the 2015 season, she set five Greek records, both indoor and outdoor, raising the bar to 4.83 meters.
The same year, she became the first Greek athlete to win the IAAF Diamond League.
Her first success in a major event took place in 2012 when she won the bronze medal at the European Championships in Helsinki.
One year earlier, in 2011, she had finished 8th at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu.
She also won a gold medal in the 2009 Mediterranean Games with a Games record of 4.50 meters.
Nikoleta unfortunately did not compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics due to an injury.
In 2017 she became a mother of a baby girl and announced her return to competition for 2018.
She then won the silver medal at the 2018 European Championships.