A popular track and field event, pole vaulting demands agility and speed. The process of running and using a pole to vault over a barrier has a defined history from ancient times to modern day. A modern Olympic event from 1896, it has seen a revolution in terms of the technology and techniques used.
The occurrence of vaulting equipment began life in a world far from competitive game. There is evidence of practice by early Greeks and Egyptians, where warriors are portrayed as vaulting over walls. The strategic advantage of vaulting walls quickly has obvious benefits in tactical scenarios, with war being one of them. Early poles were made from tree limbs and bamboo.
In marshy areas poles were a practical means of helping people bypass natural barriers in Holland and several counties within the united kingdom. It certainly had cost and time saving benefits in comparison to bridges such as.
The first known competition flips the idea of pole vaulting as we see it now. It was based on distance covered rather than height. It was not until 1850 that the first elevation based pole vault competition started.
Bamboo was used in Olympic poles up to the Second World War. In the 1950’s sticks were beginning to be manufactured using fiberglass. This material resulted in the creation of flexible poles allowing vaulters to achieve greater heights. Wrapped with pre-cut sheets of fiberglass, contemporary poles are able to bend more easily under the compression experienced when an athlete takes off. In the last few years carbon fibre was added to the mix to make poles using a lighter weight. Because of this technology the Olympic gold winning height almost doubled in less than a century. In 1896 the winning height was 3.30 metres in contrast to the still world record of 6.14 metres set in 1994. The 6 metre barrier is a prestigious barrier to overcome for any pole vaulter.
Advances weren’t only made in the construction of the rod but also landing areas. As improvements in rod technology led to higher heights being attained, the landing areas started to use foam mats to minimize the risk of injury.
Pole vaulting was just introduced as an Olympic event for women in the millennium year.