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Men's Pole Vault: An Impossible World Record to Break

Sergei Bubka currently holds the world record in the pole vault.
Sergei Bubka currently holds the world record in the pole vault.Gray Mortimore/Getty Images
Eric RiveraContributor IIIJuly 31, 2011

When Sergei Bubka jumped 6.14 meters (20 feet, 1.75 inches) on July 13, 1994, he set the most impossible world record known to man.

Yes, more impossible to break than any sprinting, distance running, jumping or throwing events.

Why? Because there will never be another athlete like Sergei Bubka.

He was reportedly able to run 9.9 meters a second...with a pole in his hand.

In theory, Bubka could run the 100 meter dash with a pole in hand in just over 10 seconds.

He also used poles far beyond his weight and gripped higher than any of his competitors.

But perhaps the greatest reason why Bubka's world record mark will never be surpassed is because of another man: Vitali Petrov.

Vitali Petrov was Sergei Bubka's coach throughout his career, and the two developed a technique that has yet to meet any equal today.

Unlike most pole vaulters (particularly American ones) Petrov and Bubka focused on adding energy to the pole by swinging their leg as they reached the vertical stage of the vault—whereas other models focus instead on harnessing the energy loaded into the pole at takeoff by tucking and shooting.

The difference between the two models is a matter of intention: Petrov emphasized on pushing the pole upwards to continue adding energy to the pole as the vaulter approached the bar, while other coaches stressed on bending the pole to take advantage of its recoil.

Today we have witnessed a rise in hybrid techniques, like the drop-knee swing up technique of Australian pole vaulter and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Steven Hooker. 

As good as Hooker is, however, he is no Bubka.

Until another vaulter comes along with greater talent, dedication and technique than Sergei Bubka, the record will continue to remain immortal.

Unfortunately, there's only one Bubka.

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