LINSCHOTEN, the Netherlands — Years ago, the story goes, Dutch farmers crossed the canals dividing their fields by vaulting over them with a pole, since bridges were few and far between. This apparently never translated into Olympic glory in the pole vault, but it did give rise to a sport here that has been gaining popularity in recent years — canal-vaulting. It is one of several little-known Dutch sports that are enjoying a revival here. Canal-vaulters do not seek to go high, like pole-vaulters, but long. Hence they dig the point of their giant poles, a maximum of 43 feet, into the muddy bed of the canal near the bank. They then take a running start, leap onto the pole and climb up it before, if all goes well, throwing themselves to the other side of the canal. It is even harder than it sounds, and it sounds pretty hard.When Erik Bos took his second of three tries in a recent competition in this rural Dutch village one recent evening, he suffered a common fate of canal-vaulters, gradually losing his grip on the pole and tumbling into the cold water below. Jaco de Groot, 26, jumped 67 feet, the farthest of anyone that evening, but only after plunging twice into the canal.“Normally about 30 percent of the jumpers wind up in the water,” said Pieter Hielema, who was waiting his turn to jump.The origins of the practice are lost in the misty past, but records of competitions go back to the mid-18th century. The competitions thrived for a while after World War II, then waned again until recent years. more
Olympic hopefuls are often questioned on their whereabouts at the time of the last Games. In the case of Holly Bleasdale, she had not even been introduced to the sport of pole vault, in which she is a medal contender, when Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva soared to a successful defence of her title.The then 16-year-old, though, was sporty and put her hand to anything. She had dabbled with the hurdles and football when her mum, Debbie, suggested trying pole vault.Setting out with a baby pole, she was hooked from the onset helped by the fact that previously “I’d never been really good at something” and suddenly she was.It seems remarkable that four years on, she boasts the third-highest jump in the world this year of 4.87metres, achieved indoors in January.Bleasdale has been 16 centimetres short of that target outdoors to date but insists she is finding form at just the right time.And in the process, the down to earth but immensely ambitious Bleasdale has already dared to dream of dominating the sport like her idol and golden rival Isinbayeva more
AZPVA Monthly Club
This is for the athlete that is looking work on their vaulting technique, but doesn’t want to train. 3 x a week jumping sessions.
Sign up is based on a first come, first serve basis. Limitted to 10-12 athletes.
This is a closed sessions to club members only.Training sessions: 3 x a week.
Training Focus: Vaulting 2+ x a week, maintaining general core strength, flexibility, gymnastic strength, stability, competitions and vault mechanic breakdown.
Time: 4-6pm. (M,W and some saturday competitions) Cost: $250 for the month (most popular!)
AZPVA Monthly Elite Club (August Boot Camp) This is for the athlete that is ready to committ and dedicate themselves to become the best pole vaulter they can be. You do not have to be a high level athlete to be accepted into this program, but you must have the attitude to work and train hard. 4-5 days a week jumping and training sessions.
Sign up is based on a first come, first serve basis. Limitted to 10-12 athletes.
This is a closed sessions to club members only. (No drop-ins during this time)Training sessions: 4-5 x a week.Training Focus: This training is a 4-5 day a week program. The athlete will be on a training program designed to get them ready for college and/or elite level training. Vaulting long and short run, core strength development, flexibility, gymnastic strength, stability, competitions, nutrition, speed, plyometrics and vault mechanic breakdown.
Time: 6-8pm (MWF at AZPVA), 3 Saturday competitions, and a few on your own workouts.Cost: $300 for the month (very popular for the dedicated athlete)
***This session is only available to monthly club members. more
MOBILE, Alabama — It’s not unusual to find folks flying high on Dauphin Street on any given Saturday, but they are usually looking for their next drink or, hopefully, a designated driver.But this weekend, athletes proficient in pole vaulting will be plying their trade on the streets of Mobile’s entertainment district during the 2nd annual Dauphin Street Vault.Last year’s event brought out hundreds of folks to LoDa, where world-class vaulters — and some wanting to be — contorted themselves over the rising bar set up between Jackson and Joachim streets downtown.Organizers say last year’s event was a success in many different ways. Not only did it spread the word about an event to be featured during track-and-field events at the upcoming London Olympics, it had an economic impact of nearly $200,000, they said.“(Summer) is really a dead time in the city, especially in the downtown area,” said Drew Bentley, one of DSV’s organizers who coaches track and field at McGill-Toolen High School. “And most of these people are from out of town. We’re looking at 100 different pole vaulters coming in.” more
From the earliest variations of existing events to competitions that can hardly be considered athletic, some former Olympic sports left us scratching our heads
Distance Plunging–Though part of the aquatics program at St. Louis in 1904, the distance plunge event seems to have more in common with a children’s game than an Olympic sport (which might explain why it’s never returned to the Games). The event required athletes to dive into the pool and coast underwater without moving their limbs. After 60 seconds had passed – or competitors had floated to the surface, whichever came first – referees measured the distance the athletes had drifted. The gold medal winner was U.S. athlete William Dickey, although, it should be noted, only Americans competed in the event
Before Ralph Lauren was designing for the Olympics, and causing public outcry over sending the manufacturing overseas, Hanes, Levi Strauss and Spalding each took a turn at creating uniforms for the Games. There was even Roots, a Canadian outfitter that orchestrated what the athletes wore in 2002 and 2006, but there was no public outcry back then for outsourcing it to Canada. Meanwhile, we hit our photo archive and found these gems.
A.G. Spalding & Co. designed the uniforms for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin Continue reading
1 Kate Dennison GBR 7 May 84 4.56
2 Alana Boyd AUS 10 May 844.51
3 Becky Holliday USA 12 Mar 80 4.41
4 Kristina Gadschiew GER 3 Jul 84 4.41
5 Katy Viuf USA 23 May 87 4.31
6 Tori Pena IRL 30 Jul 87 4.31
7 Arlette Brülhart SUI 13 Aug 87 3.81
Kelsie Hendry CAN 29 Jun 82 NH
1 Matt Devereux GBR 15 Apr 91 5.10
2 Max Eaves GBR 31 May 88 5.10
3 Gregor Maclean GBR 17 Oct 91 5.00
4 Jabari Ennis JAM 6 Nov 80 4.90
5 Thomas Houlihan IRL 28 Jan 92 4.40
6 Ian Rogers IRL 17 Apr 89 4.20
Swedish junior pole vault star Angelica Bengtsson has revealed the secret of her success after setting a new national record of 4.58 in Sollentuna this season before going on to retain her world junior title in Barcelona last week.
Quite simply, she has given up all the little superstitions athletes have before competition and has found that she is much more relaxed.
“I had always followed little routines before competing,” explained Bengtsson.
“Amongst other things, that I should not eat sugar many weeks before a meeting. But Karlskrona (4.50) was a completely spontaneous competition.
“I woke that morning, felt full of beans and said to my coach, shall we compete today? I had not done any special preparation.”
That decision resulted in a season’s best for the then 18 year old, who went on to Sollentuna two weeks later to revise her own Swedish record to 4.58 (she has cleared 4.63 indoors 2011).
“It felt great to realise that I did not need to do anything special before competing.”
On July 3 Bengtsson was chosen to make her Olympic debut, but insists that she is completely relaxed about the prospect: “I don’t feel any special pressure. I know it is going to be very difficult to get to the final.
“But I feel very confident of my jumping at the moment. Reaching the final is the lowest goal I can have, but the highest I can set myself” revealed Bengtsson who turned 19 on July 8th.
“Everyone who is above me in the rankings can easily clear 4.60, so I know it is going to be difficult, but that is what I am aiming for and I know it is within my reach.”
At the European Athletics Championships in Helsinki, she finished only 10th with a disappointing mark of 4.30. But Bengtsson bounced back two weeks later at the world juniors in the Barcelona Olympic stadium.
Jumping with brio she lifted her second world title effortlessly with a jump of 4.50 before unsuccessfully attempting a new Swedish record of 4.60. more
THE Olympics security fiasco sparked more chaos last night as the spectacular Opening Ceremony was dramatically SLASHED. The £27million extravaganza was chopped by half an hour because of fears of delays at G4S checkpoints and a travel shambles.Several scenes have been shortened in the middle of rehearsals.And one — involving daredevil flaming stunt bikes — has been axed altogether. Bosses took the decision to meddle with the timetable in the wake of the astonishing failure by security firm G4S to provide enough guards — which has forced the Government to call in the Army.A London 2012 source said: “The show has been cut because of fears that the checkpoints couldn’t cope with the huge rush in and out of the stadium.”The stunning pageant, masterminded by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle, is expected to be seen by a worldwide TV audience of ONE BILLION. Tickets to see it live cost up to £2,012. It will transform the Olympic Stadium into rolling British countryside, complete with live farmyard animals more
Leslie C. Quick Stadium Widener University
Pole Vault Young Men
1 Payne, Kevin Unattached 4.27m 3.90m
2 Koeck, Kolby PA PV Assoc 4.34m 3.75m
3 Brennan, Bryan Keystone Vault 3.81m 3.60m
Pole Vault Intermediate Boys
1 Yahner, Gus PA PV Assoc 4.27m 3.90m
2 Mchenry, Jared Keystone Vault 3.81m 3.75m
Pole Vault Youth Boys
1 Marino, Nicholas Ambler 2.59m!
2 Luciano, Jimmy PA PV Assoc 2.74m J2.59m!
3 Reed, Jeremy PA PV Assoc 2.74m J2.59m!
Pole Vault Young Women Continue reading
As Olympic fever hits Britain, many couples will be dreaming of the pitter patter of a tiny Jessica Ennis or Adam Gemili of their own. With our analysis of the birth dates of Team GB athletes, explore when best to plan for a British champion in the family. The British summer is upon us, and with the mild(er) weather comes the peak season for Britain’s favourite pastime: complaining about it. This Olympic year however, love as well as rain is in air as we exclusively reveal that summer is the ideal season to produce a bundle of joy who may also do your country proud, with 30 per cent of all athletes in Team GB conceived in June, July and August (161 of 542).Olympic parents going for gold in June produced the most athletes of this Olympiad’s cohort (regardless of year born), with 58 born in March as a result (10.7 per cent), double the number born in October and therefore conceived in January (29 athletes or just 5.4 per cent).The distribution for the average British baby is strikingly different, with July, September and October the top months for birth rates in the last five years for which data has been available. These results point to the most common months for conception as October, December and January.Perhaps we can infer that Team GB’s collective parents are less likely, therefore, to drink one too many glasses of wine at the work Christmas party or New Year bash, and to plan ahead for the life of their future champion. more
There’s a lot of unusual equipment being schlepped on airplanes en route to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games like kayaks, bows and arrows, rifles. But maybe the oddest in terms of baggage and handling are the poles used by pole vaulters. Ranging in size from 15 to 17 feet, the poles cannot be broken down, and present an interesting exercise in patience at the check-in counter. Robert Siegel talks with former Olympian Jeff Hartwigabout how pole vaulters manage their equipment.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Olympic athletes sometimes come with Olympian baggage: kayaks, bows and arrows, javelins, horses for equestrian events, sails for windsurfers and yachtsmen, rifles. That’s a lot of stuff heading into London. But Jeff Hartwig’s clients just may have the most problematic piece of sporting cargo. Hartwig is a former Olympic pole vaulter. He competed in the Beijing Games four years ago. He is now the agent for Olympian pole vaulters Jeremy Scott and Becky Holliday, who are heading to London soon to compete for the U.S. team. And he joins us now from Leverkusen, Germany. Welcome to the program.
JEFF HARTWIG: Thank you very much.
SIEGEL: Let’s say I’m a pole vaulter. Do I go to the airport and show up at the check-in with my pole?
HARTWIG: You actually do. Sling them over your shoulder and walk up to the counter and check them with your regular luggage.
SIEGEL: Do I have a prayer of getting that on the plane? Continue reading