Pole vault was first contested by men at the Athens 1896 Olympic Games, and 104 years later women were allowed to compete at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
The pole vault originated in Europe in the 16th century, where men used long poles to cross canals/marshes filled with water. The goal of this type of vaulting was distance rather than height. Pole jumping competitions were known to the ancient Greeks, Cretans and Celts.
The origins of modern vaulting can be traced back to Germany in the 1850s, when the sport was adopted by a gymnastic association.
How it works
An athlete jumps over a crossbar with the aid of a vaulting pole. The vaulter makes a run of 40 metres while carrying the pole and needs to place the pole into the box – the area directly below the crossbar – and then push themselves into the air, twisting over the crossbar.
The vaulting pole is constructed from carbon fibre and fiberglass composite materials in several layers, one side of the pole is stiffer to facilitate the bending. The length of the pole varies between 3.05m and 5.30m. Each manufacturer determines the length and weight of the pole and the location of the handhold, taking into account the vaulter’s weight, height and speed.