Pole-Vault: An Underrated Sport
What Pole-vault Means to Me:
I have been pole-vaulting for over ten years now. I started when I was eleven years old. I can still vividly remember being asked to start this event. I was about to be old enough to start competing in sports and my gym teacher, also the head track coach, asked me if I have ever thought about doing pole-vault. I had no idea what he was talking about. He said I was fast and tall, with that, I would make a great athlete.
He was wrong. I make a terrible athlete. I suck at running, I am not very strong, and I trip over my own two feet. However, I had guts. Any pole Coach would put in my hands, I would take off with no questions asked.
At the age of eleven, I was thrust into the world of pole-vault. I am now going into my senior year of college and that part of my life is drawing to a close. I will never be good enough to go professional in this event. However, I have come to love this sport for the many opportunities it has given me. Without pole-vault, I would not be living in another state from my home town, I would not have met my future wife, and I probably wouldn't be in college. As my body has begun to wear down from the decade of pressure puts on your back and shoulders, I am ready for it to be over. I sure will miss competing.
If you would like to read more about the world of pole-vault, check out the story of Joe Dial. Joe grew up in my hometown of Marlow, Oklahoma. This is my old coach, who just recently published a book about his life as a pole-vaulter. He was a world record holder, as well as the first high school kid to jump over eighteen feet!
This is not the reason I believe pole-vault is an unrecognized sport. I do not want to sit here all day with my story. So, let's talk about the professionals who do it.
The Story of Joe Dial
The Sky is the Limit:
The above video is the greatest vaulter to ever live: Sergei Bubka. He is a Russian pole-vaulter who held the world record for many years. This is a great example of how underrated this sport is. The vaulter runs over a hundred feet towards a box in the ground with a pole sixteen feet long, and they catapult themselves over a bar. Bubka jumps over twenty feet in the air! The guys at college level jump sixteen - eighteen feet in the air.
Next time you drive in an overpass, read the sign of how tall it is. They are usually about sixteen feet. Now think about jumping over that. Pretty crazy, right?
The scariest part of pole-vault is the fall. We fall backwards because we turn over the bar. So, we do not see the mat below us. The poles are also made out of fiberglass, and if spiked, could shatter during the jump. This takes a great amount of courage to compete in this event. You have to trust that the pole will not break, that your take-off is correct and that the mat will be under you.
It is not as easy as planting the pole, either. Once you take off the ground, you have to move your hands forward to get the pole to rotate into the mat. Then you have to rip upside down, pull yourself up into the air in order to get over the bar. If you do not move your hands after take off, the pole does not move either. Meaning, the vaulter will be stood up in the air and will plummet to the ground.
There are so many factors that go into pole-vault that everything has to go right. If one thing is off, the whole jump is off. This could be dangerous.
Breed of the New Generation:
This picture above is a freshman in college: Mondo Duplantis. This kid is only nineteen years old and have already broken records after records. He has accomplished a height of 19 feet 10 1/4 in. Now remember, Bubka jumped twenty feet! There is a new world record at 20 feet 2 1/2 in, but he is nowhere as near talented as Bubka. However, look at Mondo's height compared to the world record. He is so close to jumping over twenty feet, it is insane! At nineteen years old!
He has broken the D1 NCAA Outdoor record. This achievement ranks the #4 highest vaulter in history! This is incredible for a kid his age to do. He is in college, competing with the best in the world! Often times, he beats the world record holder at track meets!
Even the females who compete jump incredible heights. There are women jump anywhere from fourteen feet to sixteen feet! It is incredible to watch these females jump just a few feet away from the guys.
Along with Mondo, there are also vaulters such as Sam Kendricks, Sandi Morris, and Jenn Suhr. There are so many pole-vaulters both male and female out there kicking tail and soaring to new heights- the pole-vault is on fire!
Why is Pole-vault So Underrated?
As a athlete competing in the pole-vault, I will admit... pole-vault is boring to watch! With the horizontal jumps, long and triple jump, the jumpers only have a certain amount of jumps to reach their marks. For pole-vault, on the other hand, an athlete gets to chose what height they would like to come in at. Then they can take as long as they want depending on what bar they will go out at. The athlete only gets three attempts at each bar, but let's say they make the bar on their third attempt. Then the bar gets raised and they have three more attempts, which they could possibly use all three to get over the bar.
With that being said, pole-vault can go on forever!! It usually takes about two to three hours for a college level meet with twenty pole-vaulters. And, unlike football, there is not constant action. A vaulter gets on the runway to make a fifteen second attempt at the bar, then it could be a few minutes until the next vaulter makes his attempt.
However, it is an exciting sport! To watch people who are daring enough to throw themselves that far into the air, sends chills down your spine! It is often more fun to watch in person because you can feel the rush of the athletes. If people would give this sport a chance, they would see how exciting this sport really is. These are the nicest, most humble athletes competing. As it does have its boring qualities, pole-vault is an underrated sport that deserves more attention!