Pole vaulting has become one of the standard events in modern track and field championships. Technological advances in pole design have seen athletes reach ever increasing heights, making the pole vault a particularly exciting spectator sport. Vaulters must combine athletic prowess with technical ability in order to succeed in the sport.
Competitive vaulting poles were once made from wood, normally ash. These heavy, rigid poles were replaced by more flexible bamboo poles in the early 1900s before the introduction of aluminum poles in the 1950s. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations, “The fiberglass pole, which permitted flexion and has revolutionized vaulting technique, saw the light of day in the USA in 1956.” Laws regarding vaulting pole design are very relaxed. The pole can be any length, but it must meet the athlete’s weight requirements in order to prevent snapping.Technique
Stephen Kukureka, in a study entitled “The Pole Vault for Engineers,” highlights five main stages in the pole vault technique. The run-up comes first, the athlete generating speed along the ground. Next is the plant, the point at which the pole makes contact with the ground. The athlete now rises up, his weight carried by the pole. This stage is known as the swing. As his weight distribution changes, the athlete reaches the “rock back” stage before using his strength to finally force himself over the bar.Competition
According to Faqs.org, “The pole vault has been an Olympic sport since the inaugural modern Games of 1896.” It is now a commonly held event at most major track and field championships. Jumpers are generally given three attempts to clear each successively higher bar. The athlete who clears the greatest height is the winner. The pole vault is also one of the ten events contested in the modern Olympic decathlon.