World pole vault champion Katie Moon has hit back at critics who called her "shameful" and "pathetic" for sharing the gold medal with Australian vaulter Nina Kennedy.
Moon, the Olympic champion, and Kennedy had identical records after clearing 4.90 metres in Budapest on Thursday morning (AEST).
In scenes similar to when Italy's Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar's Mutaz Barshim chose to share the gold in the men's high jump at the Tokyo Olympics, Kennedy asked Moon whether she would be willing to share the gold.
The pair embraced trackside in Budapest in what was generally seen as a heart-warming moment of solidarity after an intense competition.
However, Moon revealed on Instagram that not everyone was pleased with the decision the pair took.
"To say that I've seen mixed reviews about our decision to share the win would be an understatement," the 32-year-old from Ohio wrote.
"While part of me doesn't want to entertain the negative comments, I would like to help enlighten those that are calling us "cowards", "shameful", and "pathetic".
Moon went on to say she wanted to explain the mentality of her decision, saying "pole vault is not an endurance event".
"Once the fatigue sets in, it not only becomes more difficult, but dangerous.
"The sport has seen everything from athletes just landing funny with minor tweaks, to horrific accidents. We had jumped an entire competition, vaulting for almost four hours in 85 degree heat [30 degrees Celsius].
"The competition ended, and we were exhausted.
"To walk away healthy and with a gold medal, while celebrating with my friend that had jumped just as well, was a no-brainer."
Commonwealth champion Kennedy, who twice broke the Australian record on her way to a share of gold, said after the competition that the two vaulters "were pushing each other to the absolute limit".
The 28-year-old West Australian has experienced her fair share of heartache in the sport, missing out on a spot in the Olympic final in Tokyo after jumping while injured.
Moon wrote in her Instagram post that she would never regret the decision to share the gold medal.
"Part of the reason we've reached the highest level is by listening to our bodies, and knowing our limitations," Moon wrote, explaining that her take off point was getting further from the mat throughout the duration of the competition due to her increasing fatigue.
"We decided that in this particular moment, sharing glory was just as good as earning it outright.
"I understand that people want to see a clear winner. It is the exciting part of sport. But in this instance, it was without a doubt the right decision, and one that I will never regret.
"Contrary to popular belief, you do not need a 'win at all cost' mindset to have a champion's mentality."
Story by Simon Smale
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