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Stanford Track and Field: Former Cardinal wins gold at the Rio Olympic Games

Katerina Stefanidi is the first Stanford woman to ever win an Olympic Gold in any individual track and field event.

Sainsbury's Anniversary Games - IAAF Diamond League 2015: Day Two Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Cardinal alumna Katerina Stefanidi recently sprung her way to a pole vaulting gold in Rio for her native country of Greece and alma mater of Stanford.

This title makes Stefanidi the first Stanford woman to ever win an Olympic Gold in any individual track and field.

Stefanidi and silver medal recipient Sandi Morris of the United States were in a head-to-head battle from the start, with each trying to outdo the other on every vault. Starting at 14’ 9”, the two made it unscaled through the entire 15th foot, except for one costly slip-up by Morris at 15’5”. After clearing 15’11”, Stefanidi, went first and could not make it over the 16’ barrier. That put the spotlight and burden on Morris, who now had the opportunity to vault for the medal of her choice: make it and take the gold, or stand one step lower on the podium with the silver.

Morris seemed to make it over, but barely grazing the bar with her thigh cost her the title and handed it over to the former Cardinal.

Stefanidi was a member of the class of 2012, where in her tenure she was crowned both indoor and outdoor NCAA champion in her senior season, was conference champion five times, All-America in six seasons, and set the standing school indoor and outdoor records.

Growing up, she won the World Youth Championship in 2005 in route to breaking all of the World age-group records in the 11-14 and then under-18 categories.

This year was her breakout, winning the European Championship and securing the bronze at the World Indoor Championships prior to heading down to Rio. We look forward to seeing her represent the tree at the 2020 Tokyo Games.