For Emma George, it was just another high-flying routine. First, at the Australian national indoor competition in Adelaide on 26 March 1998, the former childhood trapeze artist soared over 4.50m. In doing so, she became the first female pole vaulter to achieve the feat indoors, 11 months after she had been the first to clear the mark outdoors.

Then, when the bar was raised to 4.55m, George cleared that too.

At the start of the day, the world indoor record for the rapidly-developing women’s pole vault had stood at 4.48m, established 16 days previously at Sindelfingen in Germany by Stacy Dragila, a one-time rodeo rider from Auburn, California, and equalled in the same meeting by Daniela Bartova, a former Olympic gymnast from the Czech Republic.

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