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Athletes need not have prior relationship for sharing medals at big events, say Katie Moon

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Mumbai, Jan 18 (PTI) Katie Moon of USA believes that her gesture to share pole vault gold with Australia's Nina Kennedy during last year's World Athletics Championships was born out of an innate feeling of relatedness, and it did not require a pre-existing bond.

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Both Moon, a Tokyo Olympics gold winner, and Kennedy cleared 4.90m but missed all three attempts at 4.95m after a draining two hours and 10 minutes contest.

They could have gone to a jump-off but decided to share the gold in Budapest in August 2023.

"That (a prior relationship) makes it easier. If you genuinely like the person that you're competing against, it is easier to want to share with them, but it's not a requirement,” Moon, who is the brand ambassador of the Tata Mumbai Marathon to be held here on January 21, told PTI in an exclusive interview.

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“It really just comes down to how you're feeling on the day, how they're feeling on the day, what both of your gut reactions are telling you (in terms of) what’s right,” she said. “It makes it a little bit easier to make that decision if you know them and are friends with them, but it's not a requirement,” Moon added.

Moon said she sensed fatigue and the final jump mark of 4.95m given by the officials pushed them to decide on sharing the medal.

“When we were jumping, I honestly forgot that you could share — that was not on my radar. As we were competing and jumping more and more, I just knew how tired I was getting,” she said. “When it finally finished, I walked up to the official and said, ‘okay, so what happens now?’ He said, ‘you get one more attempt at 4.95m’. Nina walked up and said, ‘okay, so what happens? I said, ‘okay, we jump at 4.95m’," Moon recalled.

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“She just looked a little hesitant. That's when it clicked for me, like, 'oh wait, we can share (the medal)'. I knew immediately that I wanted to do that,” she said.

Moon expressed happiness that they decided to share the medal and emulate Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar's Mutaz Barshim who shared the high-jump gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

“When she looked a little hesitant, I said ‘unless we both want to take it’ and she said ‘like share?’ And I was like ‘yeah’,” Moon said.

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“Every time we spoke, you could see the relief on our faces and we both knew that is absolutely what we wanted to do and I'm very happy that we chose to do that,” she said.

Moon also expressed happiness over her training for the Paris Olympics later this year. “So far, so good. It has not been drastically different. My coach has been really good. I just do everything he tells me to do,” she said.

“That kind of takes a lot of the decision making out of my hands, which is very nice. This year has been more of a strength-based pre-season, so, a lot more weight-room, which as a strength-based athlete I really appreciate,” she said.

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Moon termed India’s champion javelin athlete Neeraj Chopra as a standout figure for her, and also revealed her affinity with cricket.

“Neeraj Chopra is the main one (that) definitely comes to the mind. He is amazing,” she said.

“Cricket is not as big in the US, but my husband is a big cricket lover. He's from England. We got to go to the cricket club last night (Cricket Club of India, Brabourne Stadium) and he was looking at all the pictures on the walls, recognising some of the names from back in the day,” she added.

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Moon said she would watch the T20 World Cup in the US and the Caribbean if she gets an opportunity. “I hope I get the chance to. I haven't been thinking about that because my whole focus right now is on the Olympics this summer for my sport,” she said.

Moon underlined similarities between pole vaulting and marathon running.

“I've always wanted to come to India. I've never had the chance up until now. I am so fascinated and in awe of people that run marathons because I don't know that I ever could,” she said.

“All sports have this perseverance mentality to them. In the pole vault, even though we're sprinting and stopping, we're still out there competing for several hours,” she added. PTI DDV UNG

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