Australian pole vaulter Nina Kennedy has soared to new heights, tying for the gold medal with American Katie Moon in a drama-charged final at the world athletics championships in Budapest. 

Kennedy twice broke her own national record with a first-up clearance at 4.85 metres and a gutsy third and final crack at 4.90m.

On both occasions, reigning world and Olympic champ Moon held her nerve to match the Australian.

The pair then each had three unsuccessful attempts at 4.95m in Thursday morning’s (AEST) final before embracing on the track.

“We were out there for such a long time, we were pushing each other to the absolute limit,” Kennedy said.

“Katie is the world champion, she is the Olympic gold medallist, I didn’t think she would want to share it and I thought we might need to keep jumping.

“But I kind of looked at her and said ‘hey girl you maybe wanna share this?’ and the relief, you could see it on her face and you could see it on my face and it was mutual.

“It’s absolutely incredible to share a gold medal with Katie Moon; we have been friends for so long.”

They were scenes akin to the men’s high jump final at the Tokyo Olympics, when Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim chose to share the gold.

Nina Kennedy smiles and holds an Australian flag up behind her back

Nina Kennedy is a world champion after a thrilling pole vault final in Budapest.(Getty Images: Steph Chambers)

The bronze medal went to Wilma Murto from Finland with a best clearance of 4.80m.

Moon is one of only eight vaulters to ever jump higher than she and Kennedy did in Budapest, a list headed by the legendary Russian Yelena Isinbayeva, whose 14-year-old world record stands at 5.06m.

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The 26-year-old Australian is now equal ninth on the all-time list.

Kennedy enjoyed a major breakout year in 2022, finishing third at the world titles in Eugene and winning golds at the Diamond League final and the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

But this nerveless display was the greatest performance of her career to date.

The WA vaulter made her senior debut as the youngest member of the Australian team at the 2015 world championships in Beijing when she no-heighted in the qualifying round as a raw 18-year-old.

She was third at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and missed out on a spot in the Tokyo Olympics final after jumping while injured.

Her previous best clearance was 4.82m in Sydney in early 2021.

It was Australia’s second medal of the championships, coming three days after Jemima Montag took the silver in the women’s 20km walk.

In other action from the night session on Wednesday, Australians Michelle Jenneke (12.80 seconds) and Celeste Mucci (12.97) were run out in the semis of the 100m hurdles.

World and Olympic silver medallist Kendra Harrison from the US was fastest into Thursday night’s final in 12.33.

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Less than 24 hours after finishing seventh in a gruelling 1500m final, a tired-looking Jessica Hull was run out in the opening round of the 5000m.

The 26-year-old trailed home 13th in her heat in 15:15.89.

Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan was the fastest qualifier in 14:32.29, just ahead of Kenyan superstar Faith Kipyegon, who took another step towards the 1,500m/5,000m double.

Fellow Australians Rose Davies and Lauren Ryan also bowed out.

It was a similar tale in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, where the campaigns of Brielle Erbacher, Cara Feain-Ryan and Amy Cashin all ended in the opening round.

National record holder Stephanie Ratcliffe (69.87m) did not advance from hammer throw qualifying.