Katerina Stefanidi on top of locked down world after garden pole vault triumph

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Olympic pole vault champion Katerina Stefanidi challenged the men to a battle of the sexes after defying burning heat in Athens to win the women’s Ultimate Garden Clash.

A day after clearing a four-metre high bar 34 times in 30 minutes to see off rivals Katie Nageotte and Alysha Newman, the Greek star threw down the gauntlet to men’s joint winners Renaud Lavillenie and Mondo Duplantis.

The Queen of the Garden tweeted: “Hey @airlavillenie and @mondohoss600 I think I won’t need the full 3 weeks to recover from this. I think I’ll be ready to take you on sooner.”

With the track and field calendar suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, World Athletics boss Seb Coe admits his sport will likely return to competition behind closed doors.

Pole vault is way ahead of the curve, having already taken the giant leap to get round the lockdown by staging long-distance clashes between stars in their own backyards.

While Newman had to deal with cold and wind in Canada, Athens-based Stefanidi melted in 39-degree heat.

“I wish it was a little cooler because I had issues with my grip because it was so hot,” said the 30-year-old. “It was a challenge for me in many different ways. I am a bit tired, for sure.”

Despite that Stefanidi jumped at the chance of a vault-off against Lavillenie and Duplantis, who shared the spoils in their clash by each clearing a 5.00m bar 36 times.

“I will do it,” she said, after out jumping US star Nageotte (30 clearances) and Newman (21).

“But because the men were jumping at one metre and 20 centimetres under their PB and I was jumping at 90cm under my PB, we’re going to have to adjust the height a little bit I think!”

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