Men’s pole vaulting has been a part of the Olympic Games since the very beginning in 1896; Women joined the fray in 2000. It’s a silly, dangerous sport in which people go very high and often get hurt.
The Event: The pole vault contains a series of steps, none of which seem especially hard. It’s part sprinting, part jumping, part gymnastics, and part acute spacial awareness with a dash of danger. Other than that, it’s a cinch. The best vaulters do it somewhere between 15-17 feet (the women) and 18-20 feet (the men) in the air. The object is to run at top speed with a long fiberglass pole, which is planted into a small box in the ground as the vaulter jumps toward the mat. Physics and a good firm handgrip bend the pole, which then propels the vaulter into the stratosphere, who then kicks, turns, pushes, and attempts to land safely back on earth. Oh, and you do all this without knocking a lightweight bar from the standards. Simple.