Junior World Record for Nina Kennedy

Athletics | Published: Mon 16 February 2015
Nina Kennedy

17 year-old WAIS pole vaulter Nina Kennedy stole the headlines at last weekend's Perth Track Classic meet after setting a new outdoor junior world record with a personal best clearance of 4.59m.

In achieving the milestone, Kennedy joined WAIS javelin star Kim Mickle in setting a senior World Championship qualifier for the 2015 titles to be staged in Beijing in August.

Kennedy came into the meet in good form, have recently improved her personal best to 4.41m, just nine centimetres short of the A-Qualifying mark of 4.50m. At her home track in Perth, and competing on Valentine's Day, Kennedy became the sweetheart of Australian Athletics after breaking the junior world record that had stood at 4.58m - courtesy of Swede Angelica Bengtsson, who still holds the indoor mark.

A thrilled Kennedy could hardly fathom her achievement post competition, which she won ahead of fellow WAIS training partner Liz Parnov (4.43m).

"Oh my god, I'm speechless," Kennedy said.

"My main goal was 4.50m, and when I cleared that I decided that I had nothing to lose so I took the bar to 4.59m and just hoped that I could do it. The crowd really helped me for sure. It has just given me so much confidence, all my training has paid off and there are still so many opportunities to come."

"I just have to work toward Nationals now, and then hopefully I'll have the chance to go to the World Championships. That'll be amazing. I'm still a junior, and with World Juniors not until next year the chance to go to Beijing is now a reality, and then next year I think I can do better than just mix with the girls my age."

Coached by Alex Parnov at the Western Australia Institute of Sport, Kennedy is an IAAF World Youth and IAAF World Junior Championships finalist. She had already bettered her career best in 2015 on one other occasion, with a leap of 4.41m coming last month.

She will now shift her focus to the Adelaide Track Classic next weekend, before competition at the Australian Junior Athletics Championships, the IAAF Melbourne World Challenge and the 93rd Australian Athletics Championships.

Kennedy's fellow home-town hero Kim Mickle also delivered one of the performances of the night in the women's javelin.

Kim Mickle

Hitting a world leading mark of 63.87m on her second attempt, the Commonwealth champion and Australian record holder Mickle was able to out-class her Glasgow 2014 teammates of Kelsey Lee-Roberts (ACT) and Kathryn Mitchell (Vic) to achieve her first qualifier for the IAAF World Championships.

"That was great. I was really hoping to hit a qualifier, and when we first rocked up out there tonight I thought that it was going to be very hard to get given the conditions. The body isn't feeling great and the preparation hasn't been wonderful at all so to throw that throw was probably a miracle," Mickle said.

"That would probably be the toughest event that I have ever done in terms of where my body is at in terms of throwing. I'm not hugely injured or anything, I have thrown with broken ribs and things before, but I've had to push through barriers to be here and I'm super stoked to have won the comp and joined the other girls on the qualifier list."

Mickle is scheduled to again compete at the Adelaide Track Classic next weekend but will consult her medical team before making a final decision on her start after what has been a difficult build up to competing on the Australian Athletics Tour. That said, she hopes that with good treatment she'll again be afforded the chance to face-off with her domestic rivals Mitchell and Roberts.

"Next time the girls are together it is going to be another great event. It always is. I had to get the qualifier out there because I didn't want to be left behind after their big throws last week. I've nabbed them tonight by about 10 centimeters and obviously they'll be looking to get past me again when we next throw in Adelaide," Mickle added.

Mickle's training partner and fellow Grant Ward coached athlete Cruz Hogan performed well in Perth, recording his second furthest ever throw, in finishing third in the men's javelin.

Hogan measured a 73.51m effort for bronze, behind Tasmania's Hamish Peacock (81.31m) and New South Wales' Matthew Outzen (78.95m).

WAIS 400m runner Lyndsay Pekin was equal third in the women's open event, recording a time of 54.20secs.

-with AthleticsAus