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RIP: the first 16-foot vaulter, John Uelses

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  • RIP: the first 16-foot vaulter, John Uelses

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  • #2
    Sorry to hear this. I remember that vault like it was yesterday. It was the first of many more pole vault world records from the likes of Dave Tork, Pentti Nikula, Brian Sternberg, John Pennel, etc.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DoubleRBar View Post
      It was the first of many more pole vault world records from the likes of Dave Tork, Pentti Nikula, Brian Sternberg, John Pennel, etc.
      He was part of a very exciting time in the sport. Didn't take long to get to 17'.
      Wiki table
      -
      4.89 m (16 ft 12 in) John Uelses March 31, 1962
      4.93 m (16 ft 2 in) Dave Tork April 28, 1962
      4.94 m (16 ft 2+14 in) Pentti Nikula June 22, 1962
      5.00 m (16 ft 4+34 in) Brian Sternberg April 27, 1963
      5.08 m (16 ft 8 in) Brian Sternberg June 7, 1963
      5.13 m (16 ft 9+34 in) John Pennel August 5, 1963
      5.20 m (17 ft 12 in) John Pennel August 24, 1963

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      • #4
        This was the early fiberglass era.

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        • #5
          It was a very different event from 1960 to 1965 as people learned how to use the fiberglass poles.

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          • #6
            Yes, it was a very different event, however one filled with excitement and all kinds of potential. Going to an indoor meet in 1961, 1962, or 1963, you often had a pretty good chance for a new world record (world best) in the pole vault.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DoubleRBar View Post
              Yes, it was a very different event, however one filled with excitement and all kinds of potential. Going to an indoor meet in 1961, 1962, or 1963, you often had a pretty good chance for a new world record (world best) in the pole vault.
              I went to a high school in the early 70's that didn't have much of a track budget. In "the shed" we had 3 brown Skypoles, and an assortment of steel and bamboo poles. I had initially vaulted in a backyard with bamboo, then first vaulted on a runway with a foam pit in PE using a 10 foot steel pole.... The transition to the Skypoles was awesome, though had to 'unlearn' sliding the bottom hand up for the 'swing.' RIP John, you led us into the most exciting era of the PV
              Last edited by DET59; 01-27-2023, 08:57 AM.

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              • #8
                Very exciting (for me).

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by DoubleRBar View Post
                  Very exciting (for me).
                  Thanks, DoubleRBar. I real unforgettable memory for me to:

                  My memory of John Uelses's pole vault world record on Friday evening, February 2, 1962, in Madison Square Garden at precisely between 10:04-10:06 PM will forever rank Number 2 on my "Where Were You" lisr. (#1 is when and where I proposed to my beautiful wife, 52 1/2 years ago, Number 3, is when/where JFK was assassinated).

                  I was on the starting line with four other runners that evening, we were just introduced to the crowd at 10:02 PM and were receiving our instructions from the meet starter. I heard, "runners take your make". The next moment I heard: "step back, everyone step back off the line, we will take a five-minute break." At that moment I became aware of the 16,000 fans making a deafening noise of cheers, whistles, thunderous clapping. I saw many people running across the track to the pole vault area at the end of the first turn on the track. Five minutes, became ten, and fifteen minutes. The five of us trotted back and forth, jumped up and down passing each other, with a brief smile and shoulder shrug.

                  I remember glancing over to the mayhem at the pole vault area where there was a large number 16 and a smaller 1/4 below on the white placard. I don't remember if the bar was still up or was already knocked off. The next thing I remember was hearing: "runners take your mark...set...a gun blast.

                  RIP John Uelses, I am forever keeping you in my prayers, for that special night.

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                  • #10
                    Here you go!

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                    • #11
                      And ...

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                      • #12
                        HE COULD DO IT ON BAMBOO


                        Did the fiber-glass pole give John Uelses an unfair advantage when he vaulted 16 feet? The answer is no. Scientific tests show it is no springier than the bamboo used 20 years ago

                        When a German immigrant named John Hans Feigenbaum (better known by his adopted name, Uelses) flexed a limber vaulting pole and rode its reflex to a

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                        • #13
                          Astonishingly, the tests revealed that for several years American vaulters have been using the worst possible poles: aluminum and steel. They also showed that fiber glass is an improvement upon, but not a basic modification of, the old bamboo pole and that these two are far superior to the others. Fiber glass is a close man-made approximation of bamboo. Bamboo's disadvantage is that each stick of bamboo has slightly different characteristics. High-density fiberglass poles, on the other hand, may be duplicated precisely.

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                          • #14
                            Most vocal critic of the fiber-glass is Don Bragg, who held the world record until George Davies (a fiber-glass user) broke it last year. Bragg grumbled then; when Uelses soared over 16 feet Bragg complained bitterly.

                            "What do they want?" said he. "A circus or an athletic event? The vaulter with the fiber-glass pole has the pole do all his work. Speed is no longer of the essence. Nor is strength. Now it's all a matter of coordination."

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                            • #15

                              He is by no means the first to work on it. The original fiberglass pole was used by Bob Mathias in 1948. In the 1952 Olympics he set a decathlon record with it. Herb Jenks, the man who produced the first pole, says, "We've been making it for 14 years and nobody said a word. We've sold some 75,000 fiber-glass poles. Now all of a sudden, because a couple of guys have done something no one else ever did, they talk about outlawing it."



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