Sergey Bubka’s unexpected win in the pole vault at the 1983 World Championships heralded the beginning of his unparalleled dominance in the event, which included four separate improvements of the world record in 1984, culminating in a clearance of 5.94m. Bubka’s rapid raising of the world record fuelled speculation that the 6 metres barrier might be breached in the near future.
It only took Bubka until 13 July 1985 to accomplish this feat, in an international match in Paris. After clearing 5.70m in his first vault of the competition and dispensing with the rest of the competition, Bubka had the bar raised to exactly 6.00m, which he cleared on his third attempt, to claim his fifth world record. Sergey extended this world record to 6.01m on 8 July 1986 at the Goodwill Games in Moscow.
As Bubka increased his dominance over the rest of the world’s vaulters, he began entering competitions at ever increasing heights, sometimes after everyone else had finished vaulting. This tactic sometimes came unstuck, as nearly happened at the 1986 European Championships in Stuttgart.
Sergey needed all three attempts to clear his opening height of 5.70m, but then he cleared 5.85m on his first attempt to win the gold medal from his elder brother Vasily who finished second. Bubka was not so fortunate at the Bislett Games in Oslo on 4 July the following year, where he no heighted in a competition won by Bulgarian Nikolay Nikolov.
On September 5 that year, at the World Championships in Rome, Bubka took a mere two vaults to retain his world title, clearing 5.70m and 5.85m on his first attempt at each height. Earlier in 1987, at a Grand Prix meeting in Prague, Bubka had set his seventh world record when he cleared 6.03m on his third attempt.
by: Ron Casey