• U.S.

Final Frames Of the Olympic Games: Pole Vaulter Sergei Bubka.

2 minute read
Lee Griggs, Kumiko Makihara and Ellie Mcgrath/Seoul

If anyone seemed to have a lock on a gold medal this year, it was Soviet pole vaulter Sergei Bubka. He has virtually owned the event for the past four years, breaking the world record nine times and scoring ten of the 16 best jumps in the history of the sport. His real Olympic goal was not to beat the competition — which seemed a foregone conclusion — but to become the first man ever to soar over 20 ft., a threshold he had been flirting with all year.

In a track-and-field meet that had already stunned the world with a drug scandal, a bumper crop of new records and some surprising upsets, the scene seemed to be set for Bubka to crash through the barrier. First he assured himself of a gold medal and an Olympic record with a jump of 5.9 meters, which translates into 19 ft. 4 1/4 in. Bubka then had the bar set at 20 ft. 1/4 in., took a look, and put away the dream for another year. “It has been a very long season,” he explained. “I am very tired.” Not as tired as his ^ competitors, who continue to battle among themselves for the distinction of being second best, a full 2 in. off the peak.

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