Burgess quits as WAIS pole vault coach

Reigning pole vault world champ Nina Kennedy faces a major coaching shake-up just three and a half months before the Paris Olympics after her coach Paul Burgess quit his role at the WA Institute of Sport.

Burgess - who also coached two-time Commonwealth champ and 2023 world championships bronze medallist Kurtis Marschall - handed in his resignation as WAIS pole vault head coach, effective immediately, on Tuesday.

He was a key figure in Kennedy's history-making triumph at last year's world titles in Budapest, where she tied for the gold medal with American Katie Moon after the pair spurned a jump-off.

"We are aiming to win Paris," Burgess said in the hours after the dramatic world championships final.

"You just don't know how often these moments come, but we're not going to aim for less than this.

"We are more than happy to aim big, we don't think it's delusional. These are our goals.

"To aim for anything less would be cheating ourselves."

Nina Kennedy
Nina Kennedy's coaching set-up has been turned upside-down in the lead-up to the Paris Olympics.

Australia won a record six medals at the 2023 world titles, but Kennedy was the only member of the squad to walk away with gold.

The 27-year-old is arguably Australia's leading track-and-field gold-medal hope at the Paris Olympics.

Having quit his role at WAIS, it was unclear what coaching role, if any, the 44-year-old Burgess would now have with Kennedy and Marschall in the crucial final lead-up to the Paris Games.

Another member of the WAIS coaching team, James Fitzpatrick, is expected to take on a more prominent role, although that would need to be ratified by the Athletics Australia (AA) high performance department.

"We know any changes this close to such an important competition can be unsettling, but we have full faith in our athletes and team," WAIS said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The team at WAIS will support anyone affected as they prepare to achieve success at the Paris Games.

"Nina and Kurtis are an incredibly important part of the WAIS family and we are proud to support them on their journey to the Paris Olympic Games.

"In partnership with Athletics Australia, we will be providing both athletes with all the relevant structures required for them to achieve success."

Burgess is a member of pole vaulting's exclusive six-metre club and represented Australia at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

He was the AA coach of the year in 2022 and 2023.

Kennedy and Marschall are both competing in the Australian championships in Adelaide this weekend. 

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