Pole Vault History
Poles were a practical and simple solution to help people pass over natural obstacles in marshy places. Areas where they were widely used were along the North Sea in The Netherlands most notably Friesland and the Fens across Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Huntingdonshire. When local inhabitants began using artificial means to drain these marshes a large network of canals and open drains were created intersecting into each other. To help them get across and while avoiding getting wet they used jumping poles to vault over them. Using the poles to vault over was a much better solution than the tedious roundabout journeys over bridges. It's been discovered that Venetian Gondoliers used punting poles to move from the shore to their boat.
The early competitions around the lowlands of the North Sea weren't based on height. Instead it was based on distance covered. It's believed that the earliest pole vaulting competition based on height took place in 1843. In the year 1850 in Germany is when modern competition began. It's believed that Frederich L. Jhn & Johann C. F. GustsMuths added pole vaulting to Turner Gymnastic Club's exercises. The modern pole vaulting technique is accredited to the United States around the end of the 19th century. The Caledonian Games was the first time pole vaulting was practiced in Great Britain.
Vaulting poles were made using different materials over the events existence. In the beginning people used stiffer type materials like aluminum or bamboo. However, when fiberglass and carbon fiber were introduced it then allowed the production of flexible vaulting poles. These materials allow vaulters to achieve much great heights and are responsible for major changes in pole vaulting world records. Speed and agility are some of the physical attributes required to vault well, however, a vaulter does need technical skill. The technical skill is just as important if not more important than physical attributes.
The basic concept behind the pole vault event is to clear a bar that is supported by the standards without knocking it down. Since 1896 pole vaulting has been a full medal event in the Olympic Games. However, women didn't compete in this event in the Olympics until 2000. According to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Sergey Bubka holds the world record for men in pole vaulting at 6.14 meters on 07-31-1994 at the Sestriere venue. Elena Isinbaeva holds the record for women in pole vaulting at 5.06 on 08-28-2009 at the Zurich venue. The world records are valid as of 8-10-2010 and you can view current records the International Association of Athletics Federations website.