Finnish pole vaulter Wilma Murto (© Getty Images / AFP)
Less than 24 hours after Jenn Suhr improved her world indoor pole vault record to 5.03m, Finland’s rising star Wilma Murto smashed the world U20 record by seven centimetres with 4.71m in the German city of Zweibrucken on Sunday (31).
The 17-year-old started the year with a best of 4.45m but had already cleared national records of 4.50m and 4.55m in competitions earlier in January – the latter competition two weeks ago on home soil in Turku, which saw her rise to fourth on the world U20 all-time list – but Murto has now made the leap into bonafide world-class territory.
Murto went clear at the first time of asking over 4.25m, 4.35m and 4.45m before running into some trouble at 4.55m, which she needed three attempts to negotiate.
Having equalled her personal best but with the seasoned Swiss international and record-holder Nicole Buchler still in the competition, she then went straight over 4.65m to add one centimetre to the world U20 record set outdoors by New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney last month.
Buchler, 15 years Murto’s senior, also cleared 4.65m on her second attempt – the third best performance of her career – so the bar went higher still.
On her second attempt, Murto sailed cleanly over 4.71m to suggest there is still more to come this winter and take the victory after Buchler failed on all three of her attempts at what would have been a Swiss indoor record.
With nothing to lose, after two world U20 records in one competition, Murto had the bar raised to 4.77m but called it a day after two unsuccessful attempts.
Into the bargain, Murto also added 11 centimetres to the Finnish record which had been held by Minna Nikkanen, who finished third on Sunday with 4.45m.
The calibre of Murto’s performance was made all the more impressive by the fact her poles didn’t make her flight from Finland, which caused her to plaintively comment via social media, and she was only repatriated with them just before the start of the competition.
Competing in his training base, 2013 world champion Raphael Holzdeppe chalked up another victory this winter with a clearance at his opening height of 5.71m to win ahead of Poland’s Robert Sobera and France’s Kevin Menaldo who both cleared 5.61m.
Holzdeppe, who had three unsuccessful attempts at 5.87m in Zweibrucken, goes head-to-head with world champion Shawn Barber of Canada in his next competition in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.
Steven Mills for the IAAF