advanced pole vault

m640 model

Why did I call this model m640? Here is the story. On June 26, 1981 We have witnessed the world record set to 5.81m by Vladimir Polyakov (USSR), Pierre Quinon (France) vaulted 5.82m followed by Thierry Vigneron (France) 5.83m on September 1st, 1983. On May 26, 1984 (28+ years ago) Sergey Bubka cleared 5.84m (19’ 1”+), setting his first world record, and opening a new chapter in pole vaulting.

As it is recorded in history of the event, Bubka set 35 world records and dominated world of pole vaulting for almost 15 years (1983-1997), winning six consecutive outdoor world championships (1983 through 1997), 1988 Olympic Gold Medal in Seoul and numerous other championships and Grand Prix, raising the record bar to 6.15m (20 feet 134 inches) and clearly establishing himself as the best ever pole vaulter!

As impressive as current world record of 6.15m is, on numerous occasions in 1991-1997 I have witnessed jumps at levels approaching 6.40m (21 foot)! That is nearly one and a half foot higher than the best winning vaulters of today. There is clearly a chasm between the approach/model Bubka used to achieve his remarkable performances and anything world has seen before or since. Although very fast, 9.6-9.8 m/s approach speeds, he was, by his own admission, not the fastest or the most physically gifted vaulter around. I definitely agree and attribute his historic domination of the event to the model he and Petrov introduced in the early 80s and continue developing through his carrier. This model, in my opinion, is the only method I know that would allow a man to clear 6.40m (21’) and for a woman to go over 5.20m (17’), with current levels of approach speed. Based on this understanding, I have dubbed this method m640.

As I remember events over 25 years ago, in 1985, I was sitting with the first Russian 19’(WR 5.81m) vaulter Vladimir Polyakov, observing another 5.85m or so winning performance by Bubka in Sochi (Russia) early spring competition, when Vladimir made a comment to me that Bubka’s technique is rather irrational and unpolished. He called it a “helicopter” with blades swinging all over. I remember replying that its not the cleanliness of lines that counts, but the height over the bar. And that day, catalyzed by Vladimir's comment, I could clearly see that Bubka was doing something completely different from everything we have ever seen.

Being fortunate of participating on the national level and having a great access to the leading pole vaulters, coaches and research, I began the “reverse engineering” of Bubka’s formula. By late 80’s, while I was coached by Jury Volkov, I finally extracted the main ingredients of the Bubka’s brew. I was fortunate to come to Australia, finish runner-up to my good friend Simon Arkell in 1991 Australian Open Championship and meet and work with Alan Launder in Australia 1991-1992. Due to my ACL injury and Alan’s generous invitation, I began coaching in Adelaide while working with Alan’s group. Alan, a dedicated student of the event and genius mind, nudged me to continue coaching and the development in the pole vault.

Since coming to America in 1992, I have competed to the best of my knee’s ability; winning NAIA national title, finishing runner up NCAA II, coaching college all-Americans, high school Tennessee state record holder, advising several top male and female vaulters in the country as well as coaching the winner of 1997 Silver World Indoor Championship Medal in Paris France, the first American international medal since World Indoor Bronze won in 1989 by Joe Dial, six consecutive indoor/outdoor US Championships (in which I have participated as a coach of “LoJo” Lawrence Johnson - 2012 US Pole Vault Hall of Fame inductee) 1997 indoor/outdoor, 2000 indoor/outdoor, 2001 indoor/outdoor, coaching the Silver Olympic Medalist in 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, coaching the current, twelve years old, American Indoor Record for men set in 2001, and coaching World Indoor Champion in 2001. I have been fortunate to have guidance and assistance from many people around the world. I specially thank my coaches Anatoly Gordienko & Yuri Volkov, Alan Launder, Steve Chappell of UCS Spirit, Bob Fraley, at the time the head of US vault development, Vitaly Petrov, Lawrence Johnson, for trusting me to influence his post collegiate professional career, as well as numerous other friends and colleagues. I THANK YOU ALL without you it would not be possible, but I attribute the decisive component of the successes to the discovery I have made in the late 80’s, inspired by Bubka and Petrov, observing, studying testing and refining THE MODEL which I call m640 and which I have employed with Angela Rummans – a young female vaulter, that I have been coaching in Knoxville Tennessee, since July 2011 through March 2013 and who improved her personal best from 4.00m to 4.40m in ten months, qualifying, at the age of twenty, for 2012 US Olympic Trials.


Copyright by Roman Botcharnikov & Do not reprint or repost this content or any part of it without express written permission from the copyright holder.


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