TOKYO - Arkansas alum Tina Sutej of Slovenia advanced to the Tokyo Olympics final in the pole vault while an injury, after a broken pole, befell 2016 silver medalist Sandi Morris during the qualification round on Monday in the Olympic Stadium.
Competing in her third Olympic Games, Sutej qualified for her second final, having finished 11th in 2016. Sutej produced three first-attempt clearances during the qualification round and was one of seven vaulters to reach the determining height of 14-11 (4.55) with no misses.
Tuesday's competition at the Tokyo Olympics will include the qualification round in the men's shot put. Arkansas volunteer coach Ryan Crouser, the defending Olympic champion and record holder, will compete in group B, which will be held at 6:40 a.m. (CT) and can be viewed on Peacock and NBCOlympics.com as well as a dedicated live stream (https://bit.ly/3fkNI2U).
Sutej progressed through bar clearances of 13-11 ¼ (4.25), 14-5 ¼ (4.40) and 14-11. After her make at 14-11, the first signs of rain falling occurred. Then it escalated into a rainstorm, which caused a delay an hour into the qualifying competition.
The pole vault final on Thursday will include all 15 vaulters who cleared 14-11 among the 31 entrants in the qualification field.
Prior to the track and field portion of the Tokyo Olympics starting, a pair of publications predicted Sutej to place among the top eight in the final.
British publication Athletics Weekly tabbed Sutej for seventh place while U.S. publication Track & Field News had her in eighth place. Predictions for Morris included bronze by Track & Field News and fourth place by Athletics Weekly.
Morris passed the opening height and made 14-5 ¼ on her first attempt. Due up next for her first try at 14-11, she requested the event be delayed due to the heavy rain at that stage. Officials opted to delay the pole vault as well as the women's discus final while track events, which involved the women's 400m hurdles, were still held.
Once competition resumed an hour later, Morris had her pole break after planting it into the box. The break prevented Morris from completing her vault over the bar, which didn't count as a miss due to the circumstances, as she landed in the padded section around the box area.
Field audio picked up Morris commenting that she overstretched her left hip a little bit during that attempt but thought she would be ok.
After selecting another pole and reapplying tape for her grip, Morris planted the pole and went up in the air but halted her progression before trying to get over the bar, clutching her left hip area as she fell back to the mat. Two more attempts had Morris going down the runway, but she was unable to continue the attempt either time.
Clearing the height of 14-5 ¼ placed Morris ninth in group A and tied for 16th overall.
Following the competition Morris was seen by USATF medical staff and posted the following note on social media.
"I just want everyone to know I'm safely back in the Olympic village and have been seen by our awesome Team USATF medical staff.
"When I broke the pole, it hyper-extended my hip flexor. I felt it immediately when I stood up after the break, and I knew for certain something was very wrong when I tried to run down the runway for another attempt.
"My hip flexor was shooting pain down my leg and clicking, and my quad was cramping as a reaction. I had no chance to make it down the runway for another jump. But I tried anyway.
"I can walk away from today knowing I gave it all I had. The conditions and circumstances were unlucky and unfortunate, but I will go home, heal, be around the love of my husband and family, and I know I'll come back just fine.
"I just need to heal now.
"Thank you for all of your support. You truly have no idea how much it means to me. I wish I could hug every last one of you."