**Related Video Above: Olmsted Falls native makes Olympic pole vault team in 2021.**
The pole vaulters knew that was possible, thanks to a pair of high jumpers who turned their tie at the Olympics two years ago into a feel-good moment where everyone walked away a winner.
Moon, who won multiple titles at Ashland University, and Kennedy did the same thing Wednesday night at world championships, cementing their friendship by agreeing to split the title after finishing in a tie for first place.
“I kind of looked at her and said, ‘Hey girl, you maybe want to share this?” Kennedy recounted.
Moon did. She definitely did.
“What an amazing night,” Moon said. “I hope everyone enjoyed that one.”
But since the double win, Moon has received feedback online from folks who didn’t agree with athletes’ decision. On Friday, she spoke out on social media:
To say that I’ve seen mixed reviews about our decision to share the win would be an understatement. While part of me doesn’t want to entertain the negative comments, I would like to help enlighten those that are calling us “cowards”, “shameful”, “pathetic” etc. I know you can’t make everyone happy in this world, but in an effort to help people understand the sport that I love so much, I would like to explain my mentality in that moment. The pole vault is not an endurance event. We have a short window of jumps. Once the fatigue sets in, it not only becomes more difficult, but dangerous. The sport has seen everything from athletes just landing funny with minor tweaks, to horrific accidents. We had jumped an entire competition, vaulting for almost 4 hours in 85 degree heat. The competition ended, and we were exhausted. A World Championship is incredibly emotionally draining-even more so than a regular competition. My step (the point where I jump off the ground into the takeoff) to vault safely has to be in almost the exact same spot every time, give or take a few inches. My last few jumps, that takeoff step was moving further and further out, giving us real data showing my fatigue even with adrenaline. To walk away healthy and with a gold medal, while celebrating with my friend that had jumped just as well, was a no-brainer. Part of the reason we’ve reached the highest level is by listening to our bodies, and knowing our limitations. We decided that in this particular moment, sharing glory was just as good as earning it outright. I understand that people want to see a clear winner. It is the exciting part of sport. But in this instance, it was without a doubt the right decision, and one that I will never regret. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a “win at all cost” mindset to have a champion’s mentality.
The idea to split of course came from Mutaz Essa Barshim (Qatar) and Gianmarco Tamberi (Italy) for the idea.
Two years ago at the Tokyo Olympics, they paved the way to splitting a title when they finished deadlocked in the high jump. It sent Tamberi into all sorts of celebrations, including a belly-flop onto the track (Tamberi won a title of his own Tuesday night in Budapest).
In high jump and pole vault, athletes keep jumping until they miss three attempts in a row. Ties are broken by who has more misses at a certain height. If still tied, they count the number of misses through the entire final. If there’s still no difference, a jump-off ensues. But when an official at the Olympics told Barshim and Tamberi that a tie was possible, they jumped at it.
And so, a precedent was set.
“It’s funny because until the Olympics, I never realized you could split the gold medal,” said Moon, the Olympic champion from the United States who now gets credit for defending her world title. “I just didn’t realize that was a thing. Coming into this coming into the meet, you don’t expect that it’s going to come down to something like that.
“And it’s funny because I never knew what I do in the moment.”
Turns out, share it.
Moon and Kennedy missed all three tries at 4.95 meters (16 feet, 2 3/4 inches). Right after, Moon looked at the official to gain some sort of clarification.
“He said there was going to be a jump off and I just assumed (Kennedy) would want to so I just said, ‘Yeah,’” Moon said.
Moon said that only because she already had a title to herself, and she at first assumed Kennedy would want a chance to win her own, too. But Moon was exhausted. So was Kennedy, whose legs were cramping.
“And then when it looked like she maybe didn’t want to (go to a jump off), it was like, ‘I don’t want to, either,’” Moon said. “Like, ‘Did we just become best friends?’”