Imogen Ayris soars to pole vault bronze for New Zealand

Brodyn Knuckey
Source: 1News

Imogen Ayris has won New Zealand's first athletics medal in Birmingham, taking away bronze in the women's pole vault final while fellow Kiwi Olivia McTaggart finished fourth.

Imogen Ayris clears the bar during the final of the women's pole vault at the Commonwealth Games.

There was early drama before the competition even started with England's Holly Bradshaw forced to withdraw after injuring herself in the warm-ups for the final.

When the competition did get underway, Ayris waited for the height to be raised to 4.25m before entering the competition but missed with her first attempt. She bounced back with her next run up though, clearing the bar with ease.

The bar was then raised to 4.35m with McTaggart entering the fray - one of only two competitors yet to jump in the competition alongside Australia's Nina Kennedy.

McTaggart made the height with room to spare as did Ayris with Kennedy and Canada's Anicka Newell also clearing the height with their first efforts.

More drama then unfolded with another medal favourite, defending champion Alysha Newman from Canada, also retiring having injured herself clearing 4.25m.

With the bar now at 4.45m, McTaggart returned to the stage but her first attempt saw her feet hit the bar on the way up. Ayris managed to clear it on her first run though, equalling her season best in the process.

Along with Ayris, Kennedy and England's Molly Caudery made 4.45m on their first attempt and watched on as McTaggart initially cleared the same height before knocking the bar again on her way down. Newell also suffered the same fate meaning the pair had one last chance to join the qualified trio in moving on.

With the crowd behind her, McTaggart brushed aside the pressure to stay in the competition and delighted the crowd with an exaggerated wiping of her forehead afterwards.

With Newell unable to make the height, that left four competitors still standing in the final and with two of them being Kiwis, New Zealand was guaranteed a medal - with Ayris ranked ahead of McTaggart on countback of previous failed attempts.

Ayris, McTaggart and Caudery all failed their first two attempts with the bar raised to 4.50m while Kennedy made the risky call to skip the height all together and watch on from the sidelines.

McTaggart was the first up with her final life at 4.50m but clipped the bar on the way down, meaning Ayris was now guaranteed a medal - all that was left was to decide which one.

With Ayris failing her third attempt, it meant she sealed the bronze medal. With Kennedy clearing 4.60m she took gold for Australia, leaving a silver for Caudery.