Tag Archives: pole vault

Track Beauty of the Week: Denise Groot

Denise Groot is this week’s Track Beauty!

Groot is a pole vaulter from the Netherlands. Coached by George Friant and 2005 World Champion Rens Blom, Denise has been a consistent 4.00m vaulter since 2007. Groot had a sterling career in age-group competition. While still only a youth athlete, Denise won a silver medal in the Dutch National Championships in 2007, clearing a height of 3.61m. She followed this up with another silver medal, soaring over 3.90m in the European Youth Olympic Festival the same year.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Click this link to read the full article…

Track Beauty of the Week: Tatiana Grigorieva Татьяна Григорьев

Tatiana Grigorieva Татьяна Григорьев is this week’s Track Beauty!

As a 15-year old kid back in 2000, one of the very first athletics articles I’ve read was about the glamor couple of Grigorieva and Viktor Chistiakov Виктор Чистяков. Grigorieva was one of the most stunning female athletes ever to grace the sport. Hence, it is about time that she gets some air time in Track Beauty of the Week. More importantly, the Russian-born Australian was an early pole vault pioneer.

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Bleasdale vs. Isinbayeva

Pole vault world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva (Елена Исинбаева) always makes her first jump when everyone else had made theirs. The Russian usually isolates herself from the other competitors, opting to cover her face with a towel and nap. British Olympic hopeful Holly Bleasdale was not amused. She called Isinbayeva “disrespectful” and likened her to a “tramp.”

Click here to read the full article…

Portrait Silke Spiegelburg

Check out this documentary on German Olympic hopeful Silke Spiegelburg.

Silke has a personal best 4.82m, set in Monaco this year. She has won two European Indoor silver medals the past few years. Spiegelburg finished second at the Barcelona European Championships two years ago. Spiegelburg has been a finalist in two World Championships, this year’s World Indoors and the Beijing Olympics.

Read: “London Olympics Preview – The Pole Vault”

Go Silke! You deserve a medal!


Silke’s IAAF profile


Running A Dead Heat – Twice.

I was supposed to write about the dead heat between Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh, but something much more interesting caught my attention.

As I was scouring Google for more articles on the 60m Hurdles at the 2011 Russian Indoor Championships, where Yevgeniy Borisov Евгений Борисов and Konstantin Shabanov Константин Шабанов shared the national title, it turns out that the Russian hurdlers ran a dead heat again –  at the very same competition!

Read: “A Dead Heat!”

Borisov (orange vest) and Shabanov (blue vest) in 2011. Both hurdlers time 7.63s. (Photo from Athletics Russia)

In 2011, the Russian duo both clocked 7.63s. Even if the judges went to the photo-finish tapes, the race was too close to call; hence, they shared the gold. This time around, both Borisov and Shabanov were one-hundredths of a second slower. And still inseparable. For the second time in two years, the two hurdlers again shared the top spot on the podium.

Shabanov (L) and Borisov in 2012. Both athletes time 7.64s and share the gold again! (Photo from Athletics Russia)

A dead heat, especially in the running events, is a rare occurrence in itself. But to do it twice? Now, that’s uncanny!

Interestingly, the 2012 edition  of the Russian Indoor Championships featured closely-fought contests:

  1. Women’s Pole Vault (2012): Ludmila Yeruemina and Angela Sidorova both cleared 4.32m. Two bronze medals were awarded.
  2. Men’s 60m Dash (2012): Yevgeniy Ustavshchikov and Mikhail Yegorov both ran 6.74s. Again, two bronze medals were given! The battle for first place was also close, but the photo-finish cameras were conclusive. Aleksandr Brednev and Mikhail Idrisov were both credited with 6.72s, but the former took the gold medal.


EAA article on the 2011 Russian Indoor Championships

IAAF article on the 2012 Russian Indoor Championships

EAA article on the 2012 Russian Indoor Championships

Track Beauty of the Week: Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou Νικολέτα Κυριακοπούλου (Nikolia Kyriakopoulou)

Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou Νικολέτα Κυριακοπούλου is this week’s track beauty!

Kyriakopoulou is the Greek pole vault record holder at 4.71m. She set her national mark at the London Grand Prix last year. Prior to her breakout 2011 season, the pole vaulter only had a personal best of 4.55m. In 2011, she qualified for the finals of the European Indoor Championships and the World Championships.

Click here to read the full article…

London Olympics Preview: The Pole Vault

I love watching the pole vault. It is the most technically demanding athletics event – and one of the most engaging and exciting. I won’t pretend to be a pole vaulting expert. I am not. My knowledge of its technical intricacies are practically nil, so I’ll be basing my predictions on gut feel and statistics.

Photo from Nigel Chadwick

Women’s Pole Vault

Yelena Isinbayeva (Елена Исинбаева) is to women’s pole vault as Sergei Bubka (Сергі́й Бу́бка Серге́й Бу́бка) is to the men’s event. Isinbayeva is undoubtedly, the greatest female vaulter of all-time, the only one to clear above five meters in the relatively young discipline. But the stresses of being on top for so long took its toll on the Russian. Isinbayeva no-heighted at the 2009 Berlin World Championships and placed a dismal fourth a year later at the World Indoors in Doha.

Isinbayeva at the Doha World Indoors. (Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)

After taking a year-long break, the pole vaulting legend is back, having cleared a world-leading 5.02m last February, before storming back to the top at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

The world record holder, at her best, is unbeatable. She is simply way ahead of her other competitors, despite showing signs of vulnerability the past few years. Isinbayeva is my hands down choice for the Olympic title. It is safe to say that no one can beat Yelena but herself.

The 2011 World Champion, Fabiana Murer (4.63m SB), leads the short list of challengers. Jennifer Suhr, the silver medalist from Beijing behind Isinbayeva, seemed to have regained her old form with season’s best clearances of 4.65m outdoors and 4.88m indoors. Isinbayeva’s long-time rival and compatriot, Svetlana Feofanova (Светлана Феофанова), and the 2009 World Champion, Anna Rogowska, are also be in the running for a spot on the podium.


Murer (L), Suhr (C), and Rogowska (R). (Photos from Wilson Dias/ABr, All-Athletics, and Erik van Leeuwen)

Britain’s Holly Bleasdale has had a sterling indoor campaign, notching a new British record of 4.87m indoors. Only Isinbayeva and Suhr had jumped higher than Bleasdale indoors. The 21-year old has yet to find her form outdoors this season (4.35m), but has a 4.70m personal best from 2011.

Rounding up the list of contenders are Yarisley Silva (4.72m SB indoors), Jirina Ptácniková (4.70m SB indoors), and Silke Spiegelburg (4.77m SB indoors).

Top Three Predictions

Gold: Yelena Isinbayeva

Silver: Fabiana Murer

Bronze:  Jennifer Suhr/Anna Rogowska

Men’s Pole Vault

The demise of Steven Hooker – who once held Olympic, World Championships, World Indoor Championships, and Commonwealth Games titles – has paved the way for an excitingly, unpredicatable competition. Case in point is the Daegu World Championships, where the relatively unknown Paweł Wojciechowski (5.90m) and Lázaro Borges (5.90m) topped the competition, ahead of the favorite, Renaud Lavillenie (5.85m).

Otto (L), Lavillenie (C), and Walker (R) at the Istanbul World Indoors. (Photo from Erik van Leeuwen)

Among the top ten vaulters in the 2012 outdoor season, only Lavillenie (6.01m PB – 2009, outdoors, 6.03m PB – 2011, outdoors) and Brad Walker (6.04m PB – 2008, outdoors) are members of the elite six-meter club. The rest hover around the 5.90m height. The silver medalist from Beijing, Yevgeny Lukyanenko (Евгений Лукьяненко), is ranked below the top 10 (5.65m SB), but had cleared 6.01m back in 2008.


Lukyanenko (L) and Mesnil (R). (Photos from All-Athletics and Albin Denooz)

The other vaulters who have won major championship medals are Björn Otto (2nd, Istanbul 2012, 5.90m PB – 2007), Malte Mohr (2nd, Doha 2010, 5.72m PB – 2012), Romain Mesnil (2nd, Osaka 2007/Berlin 2009; 3rd – Lisbon 2001; 5.95m PB – 2003), and Denys Yurchenko Денис Юрченко (3rd, Budapest 2004; 3rd, Beijing 2008; 5.83m PB – 2008).


Mohr (L) and Yurchenko (R). (Photos from Va.sc. and vecherka.donetsk.ua)

As the world leader, Lavillenie has the favorite tag. The resurgent elder statesmen, Walker and Otto, are surprisingly perched at the higher spots – above their younger competitors. Mohr and the Briton Steven Lewis look poised to make an impact in the world’s highest stage.

The men’s event is certainly a lot tougher to call! But here goes nothing. Who knows? Maybe Stevie Hooker has a few surprises left under his sleeve?

Top Three Predictions

Gold: Renaud Lavillenie

Silver: Brad Walker/Malte Mohr

Bronze:  Romain Mesnil/Björn Otto


2008 Beijing Olympics Results

2011 World Championships Results

2009 World Championships Results

2007 World Championships Results

2012 World Indoor Championships Results

2010 World Indoor Championships Results

IAAF Top List – 2012 Men’s Pole Vault

IAAF Top List – 2012 Women’s Pole Vault

Track Beauty of the Week: Giorgia Benecchi

Giorgia Benecchi is this week’s track beauty!

Like the great Yelena Isinbayeva and many other female pole vaulters, Benecchi, traces her roots from gymnastics. The Italian shifted to athletics in 2005, taking up a multitude of events – from the long jump to the 400m dash. Unsurprisingly, her talents gravitated to the pole vault, the most demanding event in athletics.


Photos from Sportsevents4all’s Flickr account and cusparma.it

Her first valid mark as a greenhorn vaulter was a modest 2.80m, eventually notching 3.10m the same year. Two years later, Benecchi was jumping 3.60m as her technique improved. In 2009, she went over the 4.00m mark for the first time, eventually clearing a new personal best of 4.36m in 2010 – an Italian U23 record.

Benecci competed at the 2008 World Junior Championships, finishing 8th in qualifying. She also competed at the European Indoor Championships and the European U23 Championships in 2011,failing to progress to final. Nevertheless, her talent remains evident – her improvement, gradual. Benecchi’s future, should she remain healthy, injury-free and focused, holds much promise.

Track Beauty of the Week: Jiřina Ptáčníková

Jiřina Ptácniková is this week’s track beauty!

The Czech pole vaulter is amongst the elite of the relatively-young athletics discipline. Ptácniková has a personal best of 4.66m set back in 2010. She has an indoor best of 4.60m, which she cleared as she missed out on the 2010 European Indoor Championships podium.

Photo from sport.cz

The 25-year year old has had quite a few close brushes with major championship medals. In 2010, she placed 5th in both the World Indoor Championships in Doha and the European Championships in Barcelona, where she was a mere centimeter away from her personal best. The Czech has a Universiade gold medal to her credit though, a feat she achieved in 2009.

Nevertheless, her improvement through the years have been steadily consistent. In a technical event where pre-competition favorites could falter (think Sergey Bubka Сергі́й Наза́рович Бу́бка during the 1992 Olympic Games) or relative no-names could shoot out of obscurity (think Rens Blom at the rain-soaked 2005 Helsinki World Champs), Ptácniková is within range to eke out a surprise performance.

Fittingly, Jirina won her first ever major international title in a rain-soaked final at the Helsinki European Championships. The Czech had a best clearance of 4.60m in the competition, winning over the German record holder Martina Strutz and Greek Nikoleta Kyriokopolou on countback.

Toby Stevenson speaks to Flotrack

Toby Stevenson is unique because of his ever-present helmet. In some places in the United States, a helmets are required equipment for the pole vault for safety reasons. Stevenson, in fact, is the only top tier vaulter who wore a helmet in competition. Naturally, this made him standout.

Stevenson’s best year came in 2004, where he joined the elite 6.00 meter club. At the Olympic Games in Athens, Stevenson came in 2nd (5.90m) behind the ageless Tim Mack for an American 1-2 finish. The Texas-born athlete never did replicate the successes of his 2004 season. Stevenson missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A year later at the Berlin World Championships, the American finished 12th in qualifying (5.40m).

The U.S. athletics website, Flotrack, offers an in-depth glimpse into track & field. In the interview below, the now retired Stevenson talks about life as an elite athlete and life after it. The way he describes living 50m from the track and free services like physio made me drool with envy! You don’t get that by reading IAAF articles or watching Youtube clips. The Flotrack interviews have an intimate, friendly feel.

What struck me the most was how passionately Stevenson told of the sacrifices he had to made. Career, family and friends took a backseat in the years he spent among the pole vault elite. He lived a life that epitomizes living, eating and breathing everything athletics. His parting words are poignant:

I’ve been feeling quite down the past few days. Despite the steady progress I’ve achieved in training, the balancing act is becoming increasingly harder to bear. Sometimes, really, I’m tempted to just quit the sport and live out a normal life. But compared to the struggles faced by great athletes like Stevenson, my life’s hurdles seem grossly minute. I draw inspiration from the lives of others, and channel it into my own.

Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина rules Russian Winter Long Jump

Our favorite long jumper, Darya Klishina Дарья Клишина, started the 2011 with a bang. The comely Klishina ruled the recently concluded Russian Winter indoor meeting.

Read Track Beauty of the Week: Darya Klishina

View Darya’s post-competition interview, Yelena Isinbayeva’s comeback vault and Ukhov’s winning jump here

This early, Klishina looks sharp. Her first round effort of 6.82m sealed victory early on. Her subsequent marks were 6.53m, 6.77m and 6.76m. Two of the aforesaid leaps were better than  second-placer Anna Nazarova’s Анна Назарова 6.75m.

Read the EAA article on the Russian Winter competition

Here’s to a successful 2011 season, Darya!

Track Beauty of the Week: Yelena Isinbayeva Елена Гаджиевна Исинбаева

Yelena Isinbayeva Елена Гаджиевна Исинбаева is this week’s track beauty!

Isinbayeva, without a doubt, has revolutionized the young event of women’s pole vaulting. She is a living legend of pole vaulting, in light of her dominance the past few years. Starting out as a gymnast, the Russian switched to pole vaulting when she grew too tall. She won her first major international medal at the 1999 World Youth Championships, clearing 4.10m. A year later, she followed this up with a World Junior title.

Photos from Wikipedia and kabatology

Success eluded the young Isinbayeva at the inaugural pole vault event at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, failing to move out of the qualifying stages. Three years later, Isinbayeva cleared 4.82m, to set her first world record.

All-in-all, Isinbayeva had won 15 outdoor and 12 indoor titles including two Olympic golds. In the last two years, however, chinks in the Russian’s armor have started to show. In 2009, Isinbayeva fouled all her three attempts, months after becoming the first woman to clear 5.00 meters. A year later, the world record holder bombed out of the World Indoor Championships in Doha, prompting her to abruptly cut her 2010 season.

Truly, the stresses of being on the top could break even the most determined competitor’s frame of mind.

Since then, Isinbayeva has been recharging her batteries, taking time out from the sport. She is slated to make a comeback in early 2011.

“Stabhochsprung Projekt 6m!”

The following video about German pole vaulters Tim Lobinger, Fabian Schulze and Malte Mohr makes me miss having a training group! Being around dedicated individuals who share the same passion does wonders for one’s game. Now that I’m training solo (and since it’s UAAP time again!), it makes me appreciate the time I spent with my college training buddies.

The vaulting trio is a formidable combination. The elder statesman is 38-year old Lobinger, the 2006 World Indoor silver medalist. In his career, Lobinger had twice cleared 6.00m (in 1997 and 1999). Schulze has yet to win his first major international medal, but his personal best of 5.81m ranks him seventh at the all-time German list. Mohr had a breakout 2010 season, where the 24-year old finished second at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha, behind Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie.

Video credit:

Florian Knab

Fabian Waldmuller

Track Beauty of the Week: Cathrine Larsåsen

Cathrine Larsåsen is this week’s track beauty!

Larsåsen is a certified athletics star in her native Norway. The 24-year old from Oslo won three Norwegian national pole vault titles from 2004 to 2006. She is also the Norwegian record holder for the event (outdoors and indoors).

Photos from famtic and vg.no

Through the years, Larsåsen has improved considerably. From 3.81m in 2005, the powerfully-built Norwegian broke the 4.00m barrier the coming year. Since then, she has added a total of 0.54m to her personal best in 5 years.

Photo from dagbladet.no

Larsåsen leaped to a lifetime best of 4.35m in the qualifying rounds of the 2010 Barcelona European Championships. In the final, she again matched her 2-day old personal best and finished 8th among all competitors.

Article by Joboy Quintos

Lavillenie the Daredevil Vaults 5.92m in 2011 Indoor Season Opener

Among all track & field athletes, I admire pole vaulters the most, in light of the stringent demands of their event. Pole vault requires speed, flexibility and a certain level of technical prowess to propel oneself over the crossbar. Furthermore, the event requires a tad bit of craziness, more akin to practitioners of extreme sports than to domesticated track athletes!

France’s Renaud Lavillenie exemplifies this free-wheeling spirit. In his first competition of the indoor season, the 24-year old Frenchman cleared 5.92m in Aubiere. He then asked the bar to be set at 6.02m – a new French indoor record should he make a successful clearance. The newly-minted European Champion, however, broke his pole in three places. What’s even more remarkable was the nonchalance he exuded as he walked from the shattered fiber glass poles.

Watch a longer version of Lavillenie’s jump here

In a European Athletics Association article, Lavillenie remarked that “under the circumstances, with the pole breaking when it did and it being my first competition of the season, I’ve got to be very satisfied.”

Indeed, when you clear 6 meter high barriers for a living (and vault over rugby crossbars for fun) breaking a pole is part of the job description, albeit an unexpected one.

I’m absolutely ecstatic at the resumption of the track season. I must admit that in the past weeks, I’ve had a hard time trying to jump-start my nascent second season. The exploits of elite athletes like Lavillenie infuse much-needed enthusiasm into an otherwise bland time.

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