Prior to the advent of Cornelius Warmerdam, Earle Meadows of Southern Cal could claim to be the greatest bamboo vaulter in history. He tied with his teammate from USC, Bill Sefton, for the 1935 AAU title and for the NCAA crown in 1935 and 1936, but he was a clear winner at the 1936 Final Trials and at the Olympics. Meadows again had some close contests with Sefton in 1937 and in May they both raised the world record to 14-8½ (4.48) and three weeks later, the “Heavenly Twins,” as they were known, took the record up to 14-11 (4.54).
The occasion was the Pacific Coast Conference Meet in Los Angeles and we might have seen history’s first 15-foot vault that day but Meadows and Sefton were unable to continue the competition because the standards had been raised to their maximum and the bar could be raised no higher.
Meadows also had a fine record on the indoor circuit, winning the AAU three times, and in 1941 he twice set a world indoor record. In 1948 the veteran Meadows twice cleared 14-6 (4.42) indoors, but failed to maintain his form throughout the summer and missed a chance to defend his Olympic title when he only tied for sixth at the Final Trials. Meadows later became the owner of a musical instrument business in Texas.
Personal Best: PV – 4.54 (1937).