Australia’s highest flyers are ready to soar at the South Australian Athletics Championships as a flock of young pole vaulters look to progress at a domestic level whilst setting their sights to higher marks on the world stage.
Local athlete Kurtis Marschall (SA), the 19-year-old Olympic pole vaulter was the first of many young jumpers in the country to take the next step in the last 12 months.
He caught the eye of the athletics public in June last year when he broke the Australian Under 20 record and jumped 5.70m at a pre-championship meeting in Germany.
Marschall then took that form into the World Under 20 Championships in Bydgoszcz (POL) where he was locked in a tight tussle with American rival Deakin Volz, eventually winning silver.
Last year he also won his first open national championship giving him a ticket to Rio and making him Australia’s youngest ever Olympic pole vaulter.
Fresh off his thrilling experience at the Coles Nitro Athletics Melbourne, the proud South Australian will be competing for his state title this weekend.
“I'm very much looking forward to this weekend! It will be good to go back to the normal competition format after competing at Nitro,” Marschall said.
“Nitro was fun but now it's time to square up again. I'm in pretty good shape.
“I have been very close to clearing 5.60 for the last few weeks, so I think it's about time I got that.
“I've had a good few training sessions back after Nitro and things are starting to come together technically.
“I'm really pleased about that and hopefully it will all come out in competition this weekend.
“It's also an opportunity to get the wreath around my number for next season, so that's always the aim.
“Hopefully I jump a season’s best and maybe even have a look at the world champs qualifier of 5.70m if things are going well.”
Marschall will be up against fellow South Australian Declan Carruthers and another promising teenager in Angus Armstrong from New South Wales, who edged him at the previous national championships in 2015.
All three athletes are on the rise and an exciting future awaits for Australia in this famed event.
On the women’s side, the schedule is once again led by West Australian pole vaulter Liz Parnov who also competed for Team Australia with Marschall at the recent Nitro Athletics series.
The three-time national champion is well and truly back from a leg fracture suffered last April, which prevented her from competing at the Rio Olympics.
Training partner Nina Kennedy will also be competing in Adelaide after showing good form for the Bolt All-Stars at Nitro Athletics, an experience she embraced as great practice in front of a big crowd.
“I was so close to clearing 4.15m so I’m happy,” Kennedy said after her competition in the final.
“Oh my God, it was chockers, I’ve never seen a stadium with pole vault this full, I’m having so much fun… exactly, I’ve never experienced that (the whole stadium concentrating on the pole vault).
“When the whole stadium and the TV is on you, you’re like oh my gosh, everyone is looking at me just go, just go. It was so cool, it was hectic.
“Oh yeah (I jump better in that situation), I think everyone does, the adrenaline was crazy.”
The high jump and the pole vault has traditionally been a strong discipline in Australia, with the last two decades producing numerous Olympic and world championship medallists including Steve Hooker, Dmitri Markov and Tatiana Grigorieva.
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