Australia's Kurtis Marschall makes an attempt in the men's pole vault final at  the World Athletics Championships in London
Australia's Kurtis Marschall makes an attempt in the men's pole vault final at the World Athletics Championships in London Matthias Schrader

Rising pole vault star can 'mix it with the big dogs'

LAST year he felt like he didn't belong, now Kurtis Marschall is the seventh best pole vaulter on the planet.

The 20-year-old South Australian showed why he's regarded as a rising star of Australian athletics after holding his own against the best vaulters in the world.

Marschall was a late call-up to the Rio Olympic team where he failed to get out of the qualifying round.

A year on and he showed composure beyond his years, clearing 5.65m at his first attempt and then going agonisingly close in three attempts at 5.70m.

"Coming seventh in the world is pretty up there," Marschall said. "I'm not just one of the participants anymore, I'm not just a spectator out there.

"I know I can mix it with the big dogs and if I'd jumped 75 that would have placed me top six in the world and that would have been absolutely insane but I'll settle with seventh."


epa06132498 Kurtis Marschall of Australia competes in the men's Pole Vault final at the London 2017 IAAF World Championships in London, Britain, 08 August 2017.  EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON
Marschall clears the bar. FRANCK ROBICHON

American Sam Kendricks won gold after clearing 5.95m from Poland's Piotr Lisek (5.89) who took silver on a countback from world record holder Renaud Lavillenie.

Marschall has his eyes set on Commonwealth Games gold on the Gold Coast next year given there was only one other Commonwealth athlete in the final, Canada's 2015 world champion Shawn Barber who finished eighth.

"Gold Coast is looking very good, I spoke to Shawn Barber out there, he is going to do world indoors and then Commonwealth Games," he said.

"He's in pretty good nick, he cleared 70 in the qualifying round pretty convincingly, he has jumped 80 this year.

"We're pretty even at the moment I'd say, we're both jumping about 70 and I think I would need to jump 80 to 85 to beat him."

Marschall was the first Australian since Olympic champion Steve Hooker in 2009 to make the world championships final.

The news wasn't so great for Australia's 200m sprinters with Ella Nelson and Riley Day failing to progress out of the heats.

Nelson missed the Olympic final by .01sec last year but she is a shadow of that athlete at these championships.

The 23-year-old finished last in the third heat of the 200m, clocking 24.02sec which was more than a second outside the personal best she set in the Olympic semi-finals in Rio.

Day, who is Australia's youngest team member, also struggled in her debut on the world's biggest stage.

The 17-year-old Queensland schoolgirl finished last her 200m heat in 23.77sec behind reigning world champion Dafne Schippers.

Day, who last month was representing Australia at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas, said she was overcome with nerves.

"My legs were just shaking. I was like `am I actually out here?' I kept looking around," she said.

"The time wasn't fantastic but I don't care. My main competition was the Commonwealth Youths.

"This was an amazing experience and I feel completely honoured to actually be here as a 17-year-old."

Day admitted she was distracted by the presence of Schippers in the lane next to her.

"I did find myself looking a little bit at her, which is my own fault for getting distracted," she said. "But as I said before, I'm here for the experience, I knew I wasn't going to be the best. I'm here and I'm happy with how I went.

"I didn't really know what to do in the call-room so I was just following everyone else. It's a lot different to juniors, it's a completely different atmosphere with 60,000 people. Such a difference but so awesome."

In the women's javelin final Canberra's Kelsey Lee-Roberts finished 10th with a best throw of 60.76m.

The gold medal was won by Czech Barbora Spotakova with 66.76m.

"To make the final, that's a plus but to not make the top-eight is very disappointing," Lee-Roberts said. "It's not the result I was looking for. I've left some numbers that should have been on the board out there tonight."

The 25-year-old, who set a new personal best of 64.38m in the lead-up to London, is confident of going better than her 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medal on the Gold Coast next year.

"I want to go better than Glasgow. I want to win gold," she said. "I'll take away some confidences from this season and build from there. There are bigger and better things to come."