The second edition of Ultimate Garden Clash will be held on Saturday, May 16, with three of the best pole vaulters in the world in a virtual competition from their respective bases in Greece, the United States and Canada.
In the inaugural Ultimate Garden Clash, two weeks ago, the male jumpers Mondo Duplantis, Renaud Lavillenie and Sam Kendricks raised the bar, making 98 collective breaks in 30 minutes, with Duplantis and Lavillenie vying for victory with 36 clearances each.
But pole vaulters – Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi, two-time American indoor champion Katie Nageotte and Commonwealth Games champion – Alysha Newman – believe they can match or improve men's counting.
Under a competition format developed by men who return to training to overcome the absence of officers due to coronavirus blocks and the need for social distance, the winner will be the athlete who will be able to clean the bar most of the time.
The women agreed to set the bar at 4.00m (the world record is 5.06m) for their challenge. They will be connected by video link from their local training facilities, as none of the women has the necessary equipment in their own gardens, like the men. Broadcast on the World Athletics pages on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, the competition will be held on Saturday between 6 pm and 7 pm CEST – weather permitting – and will cover three venues. Stefanidi will compete in Athens, Nageotte in Marietta, Georgia, and Newman in Bolton, Ontario.
It will be a test of technique, consistency, concentration and endurance – all the qualities needed in a normal pole vault competition, only measured in an alternative way.
The first Ultimate Garden Clash was popular with fans, as 250,000 watched live from around the world on all three platforms. Over a million people from more than 90 countries watched the broadcast within 24 hours.
From the moment Stefanidi watched men compete online, she was eager to be part of the concept and to challenge the standard they set.
“At first, when I saw the guys make 98 (36, 36, 26) bars, I thought it would be impossible. But when I tried, it wasn't far. It is a fun way for women to face men.
"I feel like most people would expect the guys to win face to face, so if they won, it doesn't mean much. But I think the way this is designed is very possible – or at least as likely – that we will defeat them. , either as a group or individually. The reason why it is important to win is so that we can have the right to brag about the rest of our careers [laughs]. But it is also important to show how competitive the women's pole vault is now.
"We calculated that the equivalent of 5.00m for men for elite women would have been about 3.85m, but we think 4.00m was a more digestible number. So, we are jumping on a relatively higher bar that can cost us some clearances (each), but I think, despite that, we can still aim for 100.
"For me, competition is the reason I practice athletics," he added. “I love pole vaulting, but I love competing more in pole vaulting. As athletes, we cannot just train to train. We need competitions to test not only what we are working on, but also our limits. I think competitions are even more important in these difficult times, when we really don't know when and where we can meet in person to compete next. Increases motivation and gives clarity to training. "
Nageotte is also delighted to have the opportunity to return to the competition unexpectedly.
"This format is a lot of fun!" Said Nageotte, whose internal PB of 4.91m corresponds to Stefanidi's best. "It is a non-stop action, which is extremely attractive to fans. There is constant entertainment with the steering wheels trying to make as many jumps as possible in a short time, and this is something that sports fans really appreciate. This format also it's very simplified. Everyone is jumping on the same bar (height) as many times as we can. There are no passes, height changes or other aspects of pole vaulting that can sometimes cause confusion for the spectators. It's the perfect confrontation and we all love it a good competition face to face! ”
Newman added: "Just like a normal competition, I'm planning to take a jump at a time. It's still a little bit cold here in Canada, so I'll definitely have to get dressed. My number one goal is to keep the bar up, so I don't waste time It will be amazing to compete against these women, because I am dying to compete, but we are definitely trying to beat the number of men's jumps together. ”
World athletics president Sebastian Coe said he was delighted that the first Ultimate Garden Clash was a hit with athletes and fans.
"I am excited about the potential of this creative project and I want to thank the athletes for creating and enthusiastically adopting this concept. We know that there is a real appetite among athletes and fans to return to the competition, but we need to do this in a careful and respectful way with measures taken by public health authorities around the world to keep our community safe and modern technology has enabled us to do so.
“This is a concept that we hope can be adopted or adapted by some of our area associations and member federations around the world to help their athletes feel the competition again, until they can return to more normal meetings, which we hope to occur later in the year. "
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