Pole Vaulting has been around for quite a while–since the 1850’s to be precise. It was initially practised as a mode of transport across marshy lands in the Netherlands. Poles were kept on either side of the shores and a traveller needed to grab a pole, take a start, and cross to the other side. This saved time and energy, and was an effective method rather than walking till a bridge and crossing the marshes.
Later, Germany started holding competitions in the 1850’s and bamboo’s and aluminium rods were used as poles. Pole vaulting became a part of the Olympics in 1896, for men, and in 2000, for women.
Thanks to advancement in science and technology, fiberglass or carbon fibre poles are currently used by professional athletes to achieve greater heights. The average comfortable height a male competitior selects is about 5 metres, and for women it’s 4 metres. Initially, sawdust or sand was used to cushion a pole vaulter’s landing, but as the height increased, so did the risk of injuries. And hence, today, hight-tech foam mats of 1.5 metres height are used to break a vaulter’s fall.
Pole Vaulting falls under the Track & Field section of the Olympics and is considered as one of the jumping events. The primary motive is to jump over a bar of designated height with the aid of a pole. The jumper decides the height to be cleared and is given three opportunities to do so; failure to complete the feat leads to disqualification. Upon qualification, a competitor advances to the next height.
Current Record Holders
The Pole Vaulting record in the men’s section is held by Sergey Bubka of Ukraine. He cleared 6.14 m in 1985!
In women’s section, Yelena Isinbayeva is the reigning champion and she has broken 27 world records till date! Her current world record stands at 5.06 m, which she registered in 2009 at Letzigrund in Zurich.
by: Tejas Morey