Cardinal grad Stefanidi top qualifier in Rio pole vault


Stanford grad Katerina Stefanidi used a minimal amount of energy to achieve the maximum result.

The Greek record-holder opened at 4.60m and needed just one vault to clear it. Job done.

Stefanidi, competing for Greece, passed on the first four heights during the qualifying round at the Olympic Stadium before taking a single jump at 15-1 (4.60m), which she cleared easily. She is among 12 to advance to the final, which will be held Friday.

Stefanidi has already eclipsed her best performance in a major world outdoor competition. She was 14th at the 2012 London Games and 15th at the 2015 World Championships, failing to qualify for the final in either meet.

However, she has had an excellent 2016 season, finishing third at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, capturing the European Championships title in Amsterdam and winning three times in the IAAF Diamond League circuit.

Stefanidi didn't need to open as high as she did; anyone who cleared 14-11 (4.55) without a miss made it as well.

Stefanidi wasn't aware of that at the time and was the last in Group A to enter the competition, after 11 vaulters had been eliminated.

Wearing a blue singlet and one blue sock and one white one, Stefanidi showed flawless form. She landed gracefully, stood and waved to the crowd.

A member of the Stanford graduating class of 2012, Stefanidi won two NCAA championships and five conference titles; three outdoors in the Pac-10/Pac-12 and two indoors in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. She holds Stanford records indoors and outdoors and earned six All-America honors.

Stanford grad Justine Fedronic, a French 800-meter runner, opens Olympic competition Wednesday.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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