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Commonwealth Games: Why Australian pole vaulter Nina Kennedy’s hand was BLACK as she won gold

Why Australian pole vaulter’s hand was BLACK when she won gold in Birmingham after shocking commentators with a bold decision that could have failed spectacularly

  • Aussie pole vaulter Nina Kennedy won gold at Commonwealth Games overnight
  • It came after a bold decision that was rejected by commentators
  • Kennedy’s hand was jet black throughout the event to improve grip

Australian pole vault sensation Nina Kennedy has won Commonwealth Games gold after a bold decision that left commentators crying ‘she didn’t have to make it so difficult’.

Fresh off third place at the World Championships two weeks ago, Kennedy managed to take 4.60m to win gold over England’s Molly Caudery, who claimed the silver in the countdown to Kiwi Imogen Ayris after they both reached 4.45m .

It was an extremely dominant display from the 25-year-old, who was devastated after detonating a bomb during qualifying at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Aussie pole vaulter Nina Kennedy celebrates after winning gold on the night

Aussie pole vaulter Nina Kennedy celebrates after winning gold on the night

‘I am so proud of myself. I was mentally free right after the World Championships,” Kennedy said after her win.

“I had done such a great job and it was hard to come here and repeat such a great effort.”

Canadian 2018 gold medalist Alysha Newman had to withdraw early Tuesday from the final due to a leg injury.

With Olympic Games bronze medalist Holly Bradshaw of England also pulling out at the last minute due to injuries sustained when she jumped halfway through her pole vault in Eugene, there was no one left on the field with a personal best in the near Kennedy’s 4.82 meters.

Nina Kennedy wins the 4.60m and gold medal in the women's pole vault at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Nina Kennedy wins the 4.60m and gold medal in the women’s pole vault at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham

Kennedy was so confident that she passed an attempt of 4.50 m, then 4.55, when any clear space at that height would have been good enough for gold.

Channel 7 commentator David Culbert didn’t think it was necessary.

‘I don’t like it… It was unnecessary pressure. She didn’t have to make it so difficult,” he said on the broadcast.

Much to the delight of the crowd, Kennedy braved tricky windy conditions only to have three failed cracks on what would have been a new Commonwealth record of 4.76m.

Many fans were baffled as to why Kennedy’s right-hand man was jet black at the event, but there’s a pretty simple explanation for the bizarre look.

Pole vaulters use several methods to improve the grip on their poles – with black cloth friction tape being one of the most common.

Many then add either lighter fluid, chalk or spray adhesive on top of the tape to improve the grip even more.

It’s something pole vaulters have been using for over 70 years – and no doubt a Commonwealth, Olympic and World Championship gold medal would help them deal with a sticky black hand for a few hours.

Nina Kennedy celebrates after clearing the height that earned her a gold medal

Nina Kennedy celebrates after clearing the height that earned her a gold medal

Nina Kennedy's right-hand man was pitch black throughout the event

Nina Kennedy’s right-hand man was pitch black throughout the event

Pole vaulters like Kennedy often use black friction tape to improve their grip

Pole vaulters like Kennedy often use black friction tape to improve their grip

Pole vaulting is such an interesting sport. You can play some mind games and some tactics, pass and what not,” she said of the decision to skip 4.50m.

“Just from Tokyo, last year around this time I was at the bottom of my entire career, so getting third in the whole world and first in the Commonwealth is incredible.”

Australians have now won the women’s pole vault six out of seven times at Commonwealth level – a streak only broken when Canada’s Alysha Newman saluted on the Gold Coast four years ago.

The women’s pole vault was first introduced at the Commonwealth Games level for the 1998 Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Commonwealth Games Women’s Pole Vault Champion

  • 1998 – Emma George (Aus)
  • 2002 – Tatiana Grigorieva (Aus)
  • 2006 – Kym Howe (Aus)
  • 2010 – Alana Boyd (Aus)
  • 2014 – Alana Boyd (Aus)
  • 2018 – Alysha Newman (May)
  • 2022 – Nina Kennedy (Aus)

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