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Sports Then and Now



Sergey Bubka: Are the Ukrainian Cosmonaut’s Records Safe? 4

Posted on February 17, 2011 by Rojo Grande

Only the legendary Bubka has breathed the rare air of a 20' vault.

(Opinion)

I’ve learned my lesson.

When Bob Beamon soared almost two feet beyond the existing long jump world record in mile-high Mexico City in 1968, I stood at the front of the line of those proclaiming Beamon’s incredible feat (29′ – 2.5″) as insurmountable.

I was proven wrong 23 years later when Mike Powell amazingly glided 29′ – 4.5″ at near sea level in Tokyo.

Powell’s record has now itself endured for 20 years.

So it is with a bit of fear and trembling that I now suggest Ukrainian Sergey Bubka’s world pole vault records may be among sport’s safest treasures.

Let me explain:

Bubka was simply in a class by himself

With no slight to Bubka’s rivals, the man was a supreme and fearless athlete who completely dominated the vault scene during his tenure. Even after his retirement in 2001, no one has come within nine centimeters (3.5″) of either his outdoor (6.14m / 20′ – 1.75″) or his indoor (6.15m / 20′ – 2.25″) records.

The closest threat to his indoor record has come from Australian Steven Hooker at 6.06m / 19′ – 10.5″. The closest active threat to his outdoor record has come from American record-holder Brad Walker at 6.04m / 19′ – 9.75″.

While 9 or 10 centimeters may seem minuscule at ground level, it becomes a huge mental barrier when negotiated upside-down at 20 feet in the air.

Indeed, since John Uelses first broke the 16-foot barrier in 1962, there have been 52 new outdoor records set, by an average increase of 2.4 centimeters. Considering that those 52 new records all came within the 32 years prior to Bubka’s mark (18 years ago), that 9 centimeter gap becomes a huge chasm. Read the rest of this entry →

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