1936, Pole Vault, Men, Olympic Games, Berlin

1936, Pole Vault, Men, Olympic Games, Berlin

Date: 5 August 1936


1 Earle Meadows 23 United States USA Gold OR
2 Shuhei Nishida 26 Japan JPN Silver
3 Sueo Oe 22 Japan JPN Bronze
4 Bill Sefton 21 United States USA
5 Bill Graber 25 United States USA

The three US vaulters, Earle Meadows, Bill Sefton and Bill Graber were favoured with little to choose among them. Graber had been favoured in 1932 and finished out of the medals in fourth. In 1936, he would suffer a similar fate, placing fifth. The final was a dramatic duel between the Americans and the Japanese that lasted into the night and ended in the glow of floodlights. Four vaulters went over 4.25m (13-11¼) — Meadows, Sefton, and two Japanese, the 1932 silver medalist, Shuhei Nishida, and Sueo Oe. But at 4.35m (14-3¼), only Meadows succeeded, clearing on his second attempt, and he had the gold medal.
Nishida, Oe, and Sefton went to a jump-off at 4.15m (13-7¼), with Sefton missing and out of the medals. It has been written more recently that the Japanese places were decided by lot or a coin toss, placing Nishida second and Oe third. However, it appears that after Sefton had been eliminated in the jump-off, the Japanese officials stepped in and chose Nishida to receive the silver medal and Oe the bronze. Several reasons are given in contemporary German sources — 1) Nishida was older, and 2) Nishida had cleared 4.25 on his first jump, while Oe failed once at that height. While there is some justification for listing both as equal second, the 1936 Official Olympic Games Report shows Nishida second and Oe third. However, back in Japan, Nishida and Oe took their medals to a jeweller and had them cut in half length-wise. Then they were fused back together so that each man had a medal that was half-silver and half-bronze, the only two of their type ever created.

1936 Olympic Games
1936 Olympic Games


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