Dave Roberts sets pole vault record in 1976

Dave Roberts was the odd man out in 1972, when he finished fourth at the Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in the men’s pole vault and didn’t make the U.S. team headed to Munich.

Four years later, he earned his Olympic spot in style, but not without some drama.

The 24-year-old set the then-world record of 18 feet, 8 1/4 inches on his final attempt at that height while using a competitor’s pole after Roberts snapped his biggest pole on his first attempt at the record.

“I thought it was all over after the pole broke,” Roberts told The Register-Guard that day. “It numbed my hand for about 15 minutes. I was very lucky I didn’t break a bone in my hand.”

Roberts used a loaner from Earl Bell — who was the world record holder at 18-7 1/2 — and cleared his winning height.

“I was ready,” Roberts said. “I’ve been jumping extremely well in practice. I knew today all I had to do was stay cool, relax, and do it.”

Bell and Terry Porter finished in a tie for second place, each with an 18-1/2 clearance.

That Roberts broke the world record on one of his own poles didn’t seem to bother Bell.

“He took the world record on his own power,” Bell said. “I didn’t give it to him. It’s the vaulter that breaks the record, not the pole.”


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