On the Night of Athletics multiple Belgian pole vault champion Fanny Smets will get the opportunity to compete against the world's best athletes. New Zealand's Eliza McCarthy will be the big favourite on Saturday 22 July in Heusden-Zolder.
Jumping over a national record height of 4m80, McCarthy took bronze at
last year's Rio Olympics. That was a brilliant performance considering
her tender age of 19. Young McCarthy still has a lot of room for
improvement, so it came as no surprise when she improved her personal
record in February, vaulting over 4m82 in New Zealand. The Night of
Athletics is a great opportunity for McCarthy to warm up for the
London world championships in August and raise the bar even more.
McCarthy's biggest challenger in Heusden will probably be Mary Saxer. The 30-year-old American is no stranger to the Heusden crowd, finishing third in the 2015 meeting. Saxer will be aiming even higher this year with a personal best of 4m70. Other opponents include Germany's Katharina Bauer (4m65), Ukrainian Maryna Kylypko (4m65) as well as the French duo Marion Lotout Guillon (4m60) and Ninon Romarin (4m60). Australia's Liz Parnov (4m51), a silver medallist at the 2012 world junior championships, is also someone to watch.
In this outstanding international field, Fanny Smets will defend the Belgian colours. Smets recently became the Belgian outdoor pole vault champion for a seventh time. Smets' personal best is 4m40. To beat the Belgian national record, she will have to clear 4m42. Supported by the always enthusiastic home crowd in Heusden, that feat might well be on the cards.