Pole Vaulters Agree to Share Gold Medal After Grueling Playoff at World Champs: ‘It’s Super Special’

American pole vaulter Katie Moon and Australia's Nina Kennedy shared an emotional hug after agreeing to split the gold medal at this week's World Athletics Championship

After a grueling three-round playoff to decide the gold medal, American pole vaulter Katie Moon and Australia’s Nina Kennedy shared an emotional hug and agreed to split the world title on Wednesday.

Moon, 32, shared a congratulatory kiss on the cheek and hugged Kennedy 26, after approaching her with the idea. The longtime friends immediately agreed to just split the gold medal at the World Athletics Championship — the biggest track and field competition outside the Olympics — instead of continuing to compete.

The two pole vaulters had matched each other to the “T” for three exhaustive overtime rounds after tying in the initial finals. Both athletes passed the 4.90 bar but then continued to fail to get themselves over on the 4.95 height, eventually calling it a draw.

Kennedy broke down in tears after Moon offered to split the gold.

“I didn’t think she’d want to share it, I thought we might have had to keep jumping,”  Kennedy said afterwards, according to Olympics.com. "But, you know, I kind of looked at her and said, ‘Hey, girl, you maybe wanna share this?

Kennedy continued: "And the relief on her face — and you could see it on my face — and it was mutual. And yeah, absolutely incredible to share a medal with Katie Moon. You know, we’ve been friends for so long so it’s super special.”

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<p>Steph Chambers/Getty</p> From left: Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon

Steph Chambers/Getty

From left: Nina Kennedy and Katie Moon

The shared gold medal is Moon’s second world championship, and Kennedy’s first.

"I'm at a point where I've just given it my all," Moon said afterwards. "We went out and we both did pretty much the same thing and it just felt right. We both won today so it was the right call!"

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<p>Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty </p> From left: Katie Moon and Nina Kennedy

Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty

From left: Katie Moon and Nina Kennedy

The split gold is the first shared world title in World Championships history, according to Olympics.com.

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A shared gold medal is a rarity in individual sports, but it has happened before. At the Tokyo Olympics, Qatar's Mutaz Barshim and Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi split the gold medal for the men’s high jump final.

Kennedy told Virgin Media Sport afterwards that the competition with Moon “was super surreal,” while Moon said sharing the world title “just made so much sense in the moment.”

“Oh my gosh, It was such a battle. It really was,” Moon said. “It was really incredible.”

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