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Busselton-born pole vault champ Nina Kennedy keen to continue achieving goals after whirlwind 2022

Headshot of Carly Laden
Carly LadenBusselton Dunsborough Times
Nina Kennedy of Team Australia celebrates after winning gold medal in the women's pole vault final on day five of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium on August 2, 2022 in the Birmingham, England.
Camera IconNina Kennedy of Team Australia celebrates after winning gold medal in the women's pole vault final on day five of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium on August 2, 2022 in the Birmingham, England. Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images

After a whirlwind 2022 athletics season, Busselton-born pole vault star Nina Kennedy says she feels like she’s finally at a stage in her career where she’s achieving her goals.

The 25-year-old recently visited Bunbury on Saturday where she was a special guest at the South West town’s nitro-athletics carnival celebrating its 50th year.

Visiting the Hay Park track as a Coles Little Athletics ambassador, Kennedy answered fan questions and helped give young athletes an insight into life at an elite level.

Pole vault champion Nina Kennedy took fan questions during a special guest appearance at Bunbury Little Athletics’ 50th anniversary carnival.
Camera IconPole vault champion Nina Kennedy took fan questions during a special guest appearance at Bunbury Little Athletics’ 50th anniversary carnival. Credit: Carly Laden/South Western Times

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Despite suffering a stress fracture in her back, Kennedy told The West Australian she was tracking along well for the 2023 athletics season set to kick off in June.

“Injuries are just part of what comes with being an elite athlete, so yeah I’m really excited to get back on the road and do some more really cool things,” she said.

“I’m heading over to Europe, travelling around and then the World Athletics Championships are in Budapest this year so that is the goal.”

Along with the World Athletics Championships in August, Kennedy said she had “some pretty big goals” for the Paris 2024 Olympics, which she said she hoped would come true.

Nina Kennedy of Australia reacts after winning the Pole Vault Women competition during the city event of the Weltklasse IAAF Diamond League international athletics meeting at Sechselaeutenplatz in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. (Ennio Leanza/Keystone via AP)
Camera IconNina Kennedy of Australia after winning the Pole Vault Women competition during the city event of the Weltklasse IAAF Diamond League international athletics meeting at Sechselaeutenplatz in Zurich, Switzerland on September 7, 2022. Credit: Ennio Leanza/AP

It comes after a year of massive achievements for the homegrown pole vaulting star, finishing within the top five in all the meets she competed in and earning a world No.2 ranking in the sport.

Among the 25-year-old’s highlights for the year was winning bronze at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon in July with a clearance of 4.80m, the highest jump by an Australian at a World Athletics Championship meet surpassing Alana Boyd’s mark of 4.60m in 2015.

The following month, Kennedy won gold at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games with a clearance of 4.60m, before rounding out her stellar year being crowned the Diamond League Champion following three meetings in Monaco and Switzerland.

The achievements also earned her a nomination for Emerging Athlete of the Year in the 2022 AIS Sport Performance Awards.

Kennedy said she felt liked she was finally at a stage where she was achieving her goals.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  Gold medalist Nina Kennedy of Team Australia poses for a photo during the medal ceremony for the Women's Pole Vault Final on day six of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium on August 03, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Camera IconGold medalist Nina Kennedy of Team Australia during the medal ceremony for the Women's Pole Vault Final on day six of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium on August 3, 2022 in Birmingham, England. Credit: David Ramos/Getty Images

“For so many years you can have those goals and not achieve them and you feel a bit down about it but I am at a stage now where I’m ticking off those goals and it’s really rewarding,” she said.

“It’s really special.”

Kennedy said she also found herself at a stage in her career where she was trying to balance competing around the world with some downtime to immerse herself in the many locations she would travel to.

“The first few years that I was going to these countries and experiencing these new things — you’re there to compete and you want to eat the same food and be really regimented and do the same thing,” she said.

“That can be very taxing and tiring.

“I kind of took this approach of ‘you know what, I’m going to enjoy myself’.

“I’m going to be travelling the world for four months and I want to be able to enjoy myself and not be as serious and have downtime but also have up times where I’m competing and focused.

“Just balancing that out is a skill.”

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