March 2010


What is pole vaulting? The official definition says: An athletic event in which a person uses a long pole as an aid to leap over a bar. Who would come up with something like that?

Well, the truth is, that was not truly the purpose of the “invention”. Nobody wanted to go high with it. The poles were used to pass over natural obstacles such as rivers or other water hazards and to avoid tedious roundabout journeys over bridges. The early “vaulters” used long bamboo sticks, stuck them in the ground and slowly started pulling themselves, so that the pole would stall (do not pull on the pole, unless you want it to stall). When they had arrived the highest point of the pole, they would lean forward or push on the pole, so that it would start moving and bring them across the obstacle.

        In other words, back then people would “vault” for distance. In Northern Europe, every house that was situated near such obstacle always had a stack or set of those poles, ready to be used by any kind of traveler. In Venice, gondoliers used those long sticks to get on and off the boat without getting wet.

            Soon it came to be, that long-distance “vaulting” competitions were held annually in the North Sea area, called “Fierljeppen”. In the 1840’s first competitions for height were held and around 1849 the first modern pole vault competition was held in Germany when it was added as an event of a local gymnastics club. The first officially registered jump was made on October 6th 1849 with a height of 3.15m, jumped by Francis Temple from Great Britain. By the end of the 19th century, the technique of the actual "pole vault" was developed in the United States. In 1896 it was entered into the Olympic program. Athletes were using a technique where they changed their grip multiple times so that it was more of a climb than a jump. This technique is prohibited in all official competitions today.

            In the beginning of the pole vault, athletes used spruce or bamboo-poles, which were quiet heavy and had very little flexible. Later, the steel pole was introduced. In the 1950’s they started using aluminum poles, because of their light weight over steel poles. Then in the 1960’s the first fiberglass pole was used, similar to what we use today.

            The technique (Run – Plant - Take-off – Swing – Turn – Fly-away) that we use today was developed by an U.S. vaulter named John Pennel and his coaching crew. He jumped 4 world records between 1963 and 1969 and raised it by almost 40cm from 5.08 to 5.44.

            The first man to ever jump over 6.00m was – of course -  Serhij Bubka from the Soviet Union (today Ukraine) in July 1985. Since then he raised it twelve (!) times to it present mark of 6.14m Outdoors and 6.15m Indoors.

            Here is the list of vaulters who joined the so called “6.00m-club” so far:

                          1. Sergey Bubka                          6.15                 UKR            (World Record!)

                          2. Steve Hooker                           6.06                 AUS            (Australian Record!)

                          3. Maksim Tarrasow                     6.05                 RUS

                          4. Dimitri Markov                          6.05                 AUS

                          5. Brad Walker                             6.04                 USA            (American Record!)

                          6. Okkert Brits                              6.03                 RSA

                          7. Jeff Hartwig                              6.03                 USA

                          8. Igor Trandenkow                       6.01                 RUS

                          9. Timothy Mack                            6.01                 USA

                        10. Jewgeni Lukjanenko                  6.01                 RUS

                        11. Renaud Lavillenie                      6.01                 FRA

                        12. Rodion Gataullin                         6.00                 UZB

                        13. Tim Lobinger                              6.00                 GER            (German Record!)

                        14. Toby Stevenson                         6.00                 USA

                        15. Paul Burgess                              6.00                 AUS


So...let’s go Pure Sky! Let’s join that club!!!


  J Chris