Nina Kennedy out to control the 'monkey mind' as she seeks Olympic gold in Paris pole vault

West Australian pole vault world champion Nina Kennedy will be among more than 10,000 athletes to descend on Paris in search of Olympic glory.

Next month’s Paris Games will be the 27-year-old’s second chance at an Olympic medal after an injury-hampered campaign in 2021.

“I genuinely feel like I’ve been waiting for the Olympics final for quite a long time,” she told Mark Gibson on ABC Radio Perth Breakfast.

“It’s weird to have all your eggs in one basket, but I’m so excited.”

Nina Kennedy celebrates winning Commonwealth Games gold in 2022.(AAP Image: Dean Lewins)

The world number two enters the Olympics as the Commonwealth Games gold medallist and world champion after sharing gold with American Katie Moon last year despite having a broken back.

“That [gold medal] was definitely the highlight of my career,” Kennedy said. 

“The world championships happen every two years and the Olympics happen every four years so you’re really aiming to win gold at one of those events.

“Every single athlete raises the bar [at the Olympics], everyone shows up and I think that is what’s so special.”

Mental strength

Kennedy will head to Germany this week to put the final touches on her Olympic preparation before joining the rest of Australia’s track and field stars in the south of France.

Nina Kennedy celebrates with her family after winning gold in Birmingham in 2022.(AAP Image: Dean Lewins)

“More than half our sport is actually the mental battle,” she said.

“The pole vault is such a technical event and I think that is what I love so much about it.

“This last preparation part is the mental preparation.”

She said anxious thoughts could start to creep in. 

“It is about controlling that monkey mind and staying on the job.”

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Kennedy said she was embracing her status as a role model for the next generation of female athletes.

“I live in a share house with a bunch of dudes and we often watch the football,” she said.

“I was like, ‘guys, you know that I grew up as a young girl not watching females in sport on our TVs. 

“You know that I didn’t have role models growing up like I do now.

“We have women doing sport on TV now and that is so amazing,” she said. 

“I am very conscious of that and very proud to be a part of that movement.” 

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