Sparkling Kennedy is Diamond League champ

·3-min read

Australian pole-vaulter Nina Kennedy has rounded off a stellar year with victory in the final Diamond League meeting in Zurich.

The West Australian can now add Diamond League champion to her bronze medal at the World Championships and gold at the Commonwealth Games.

Kennedy was locked in a fascinating duel with American Sandi Morris on a windy evening in Switzerland, with the crowd breathing down the athletes' necks.

The 25-year-old looked destined for second place when she could only clear 4.71m at the second attempt, but moved ahead when she went over 4.76m with her second vault.

Morris stayed in contention thanks to a vault of 4.76m at her third attempt but she could not go five centimetres higher.

Kennedy, looking smiling and relaxed between vaults, cleared 4.81m a the third attempt - her season's best and just one centimetre shy of her personal best.

Slovenia's Tina Sutej was a distant third with 4.61m.

Kennedy's victory earned her A$44,000 and a place at the World Championships in Budapest next year.

She said: "It's a huge relief! I'm really happy that the world and my competitors especially can see that I am now a factor. The Australian record of 4.82m in Australia was cool, but to come here and actually win against massive names has been super rewarding and cool.

"The plan is to just keep building. The girls that are winning medals and are up there are getting into their thirties. I definitely feel like I am one of the young ones coming through and I just want to continue this momentum.

"I would love to be on the podium in the next two years in Budapest and Paris (Olympic Games) - they are my goals for the next two years," she added.

"People can definitely see that I am having fun in my performances. Once I did well at Worlds and got that bronze medal, I had achieved everything I wanted to this season and I could go have fun, make money and enjoy it in a sense which has been working for me.

"I have a lot of confidence right now. I can clear 4.70m so easily in training but in a competition environment, everything changes - you have nerves, expectation, the crowd. I have been on the podium all season and such a good run, I just know how to clear those bars now," Kennedy said.

"I did not know what to expect, I haven't done a street meet this season but I was just trying to have an open mind, and I really enjoyed it.

"We left the hotel as a convoy and got the tram into the city, it was the weirdest thing but I was all for it.

"I need some new home stuff, I'll probably just go buy some carpet - I'm such a loser," Kennedy said.

Kenya's Nicholas Kipkorir produced a fast finish in the rain to win the men's 5,000 metres and his compatriot Beatrice Chebet took the women's title in a tight race.

Kipkorir's late surge took him over the line in 12min 59.05sec, ahead of South Sudan's Dominic Lokinyomo Lobalu and American Grant Fisher.

Earlier, Commonwealth champion Chebet claimed the women's title with a superb late charge to cross the line in 14:31.03, ahead of Margaret Kipkemboi.

American Joe Kovacs produced the third best men's shot put in history with 23.23m to take the crown.

Commonwealth champion Tom Walsh finished third, with 21.90m, while fellow New Zealander and Birmingham silver medallist Jacko Gill was fourth with 21.51m.

Olympic champion Gianmarco Tamberi staved off the challenge from JuVaughn Harrison to defend his men's high jump title with a leap of 2.34m.