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Pole vault

Pole vaulting is an athletics event where competitors use a long, flexible pole as an aid to leap over a bar, similar to the high jump, but at much greater heights.

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This is High Schooler Chip Heuser clearing a personal best of 5.20 meters at the Texas Relays (http://www.texassports.com/mainpages/txrelays) April, 2003. According to http://dyestat.com this was the highest clearance of a highschooler that season, later on it became #4. Professionals, and uni athletes usually jump in the 5.00 to 6.0 range, so this highschooler is doing extremely well.

"Pole jumping" competitions were known to the ancient Greeks, as well as the Cretans and Celts, but modern competitions probably began around 1850 in Germany, and the modern pole vaulting technique was developed in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. While women's pole vault records were kept for many years, the event only started to gain popularity in the 1990s.

To complete a vault, competitors sprint towards the bar and "plant" one end of the poles (which vary significantly in length, and competitors choose different ones depending on their own form and the weather conditions) in a small hole just in front of mattress and bar, using the kinetic energy gained in their sprint to cause the pole to bend as they pivot up off the ground. As the pole angles towards the vertical, it spring back straight, releasing its stored energy to drive the vaulter higher. Competitors, by this time, push off from the pole and attempt to roll over the bar with the abdomen facing down, landing on a soft foam mat. The other equipment and rules for the competition are virtually identical to the high jump.

The pole vault is exciting to watch because of the extreme heights reached by competitors, and is thus popular with spectators.

The current men's world record is 6.15 metres, held by Sergei Bubka of the Ukraine, and the women's world record is 4.63 metres, by Stacey Draglia of the United States.

The Boy's Own Book of Outdoor Sports (early 1900s) adds:

Pole leaping is now becoming much in vogue. The pole should be strong enough to bear the weight of the leaper without bending, and sound enough not to fracture at the critical moment. The pole for beginners need not be more than seven feet long, and an attempt should be made to spring short distances with it. The hands should not be placed higher than the head, the right hand at the top, and the left hand may be placed in the most convenient position. The spring must be taken from the left foot at the instant the pole touches the ground, and a short run may be taken to give the necessary impetus. Now, in our school days, we always held the pole until the ground was reached, and of course came down with our face towards the spot from whence we started. But since that period high and perpendicular leaps are taken over a six-feet and higher bar, and the pole is left behind. Care must be taken to place the hands high enough, and to have the end of the pole pointed, so that it will remain sticking in the ground. By letting the pole go as the body goes over the bar, the leaper descends straight forwards as in an ordinary jump. When you loose the bar, push it behind so as to make it fall backwards. As the leaper goes over the bar, the knees must be bent, so that on touching the ground they will form a spring, and the force of the fall is broken.

With a light pole and low jump, it is sometimes carried over. In long leaps, as much as eight or ten yards may be cleared. Leaps from a height may be practiced, always bearing in mind that the pole must bear your weight, and that on reaching the ground the knees be bent for the spring.

If these directions are followed, you may attain health and agility though you may not attain the skill of leaping over a bar upwards of eleven feet in height.


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