Surprise bronze for Kiwi pole vaulter in Birmingham

Imogen Ayris on her way to bronze for New Zealand at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Photo: Getty Images
Imogen Ayris on her way to bronze for New Zealand at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. Photo: Getty Images
Commonwealth Games debutant Imogen Ayris has claimed a shock bronze in the women's pole vault, edging compatriot and training partner Olivia McTaggart for a place on the podium.

Kiwi hopes seemed to rest with McTaggart heading into today's final at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, and those hopes were enhanced when Olympic bronze medallist Holly Bradshaw was ruled out after suffering an injury while warming up.

That left eight athletes in the final and opened the door for either McTaggart or Ayris to open New Zealand's athletics account at these Games.

The Kiwis' chances further improved early in the competition when defending champion Alysha Newman pulled out after also sustaining an injury, leaving five athletes fighting over three medals.

Once Anicka Newell failed to clear the bar at 4.45m, New Zealand were guaranteed a medal, with McTaggart's personal best of 4.65m - compared to Ayris' 4.50m - making her the likelier option.

But when neither woman was able to clear 4.50m, the 21-year-old Ayris took bronze on a countback, leaving McTaggart to settle for fourth after finishing ninth on the Gold Coast.

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