Katie Nageotte vaulted herself to gold.
The 30-year-old Cleveland native cleared 4.90 meters (16 feet, 0.91 inches) on her second attempt in women’s pole vault to win the gold medal for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday. It was the third time the U.S. has won gold in the event.
Ranked No. 4 in the world, Nageotte edged Anzhelika Sidorova of the ROC, who took silver after after failing to clear 4.90. Holly Bradshaw took bronze for Great Britain’s first pole vault medal.
Nageotte’s gold-medal performance actually got off to a rough start after she failed to clear 4.50 meters (14 feet, 9.17 inches) on her first two attempts. She recovered by clearing 4.70 (15 feet, 5.04 inches) on her second attempt, and 4.80 (15 feet, 8.98 inches) and 4.85 (15 feet, 10.94 inches) on her first attempts. With the gold secured, she attempted to set a new U.S. record with a vault of 5.01 meters (16 feet, 5.24 inches) but was unable to clear.
As a kid, Nageotte did gymnastics with dreams of becoming an Olympian. But her path to the Games began when she took up pole vaulting in seventh grade, later going on to win a state championship as a senior in high school.
After winning an Atlantic 10 Conference championship during her two years at Dayton University, Nageotte transfered to Ashland University. There she won two NCAA Division II titiles.
During the 2016 Olympic Trials, she failed to qualify after placing fifth. During qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, Nageotte not only qualified, but did so in record-breaking fashion with a jump of 16 feet, 2 3/4 inches, an Olympic trial record.
That set the stage for her gold-medal victory. She joins Stacy Dragila (2000) and Jennifer Suhr (2012) as the only U.S. women to win gold in pole vault at the Summer Olympics.
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