Sergey Bubka: Wikis


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Sergey Bubka
Sergey Bubka in 2007
Personal information
Birth name Сергій Назарович Бубка
Nationality Ukrainian
Date of birth 4 December 1963 (1963-12-04) (age 46)
Place of birth Voroshilovgrad, USSR (now Ukraine)
Sport Pole vault
Medal record

Serhiy Nazarovych Bubka (Ukrainian: Сергій Назарович Бубка) or Sergey Bubka (Russian: Сергей Назарович Бубка born 4 December 1963) is a retired Ukrainian pole vaulter. Repeatedly voted the world's best athlete,[1] he represented the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991.

Bubka won 6 consecutive IAAF World Championships, an Olympics gold and broke the world record for men's pole vaulting 35 times[2] (17 outdoor and 18 indoor records). He was the first to clear 6.0 metres and the first and only (as of March 2009) to clear 6.10 metres (20 ft).[3][4]

He holds the current outdoor world record of 6.14 metres (20 feet 1 3/4 inches), set on 31 July 1994 in Sestriere, Italy[5] and the current indoor world record of 6.15 meters, set on 21 February 1993 in Donetsk, Ukraine.[6]



Born in Voroshilovgrad, Ukraine, Bubka was a good track-and-field athlete in the 100-meter dash and the long jump, but he became a world-class competitor only when he turned to the pole vault. In 1983, virtually unknown in international meets, he won the world championship at Helsinki, Finland, and the following year he set his first world record, clearing 5 m 75 cm (19 ft 2‚ in). Until the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in late 1991, Bubka competed for Soviet teams. The Soviet sports system rewarded athletes for setting new world records, and he became noted for establishing new records by slim amounts, sometimes as little as a centimeter higher. This allowed him to collect frequent bonus payments and made Bubka an attraction at track-and-field meets.

Pole vaulting career

Serhiy Bubka entered international athletics in 1981 participating in the European Junior Championships where he reached 7th place. But the 1983 World Championships held in Helsinki proved to be his actual entry point to the mainstream world athletics, where a relatively unknown Bubka snatched the gold, clearing 5.70 metres (18 feet 8 inches). The years that followed witnessed the unparalleled dominance of Bubka, with him setting new records and standards in pole vaulting.

He set his first world record of 5.85m on 26 May 1984 which he improved to 5.88m a week later, and then to 5.90m a month later. He cleared 6.00 metres (19 feet 8 inches) for the first time on 13 July 1985 in Paris.[4] This height had long been considered unattainable. With virtually no opponents, Bubka improved his own record over the next 10 years until he reached his career best and the current world record of 6.14 m (20 feet 1 3/4 inches) in 1994.

He was the first (and as of October, 2009, the only) athlete ever to jump over 6.10 metres, in San Sebastián, Spain in 1991. He set the current world record of 6.14 metres in 1994 after some commentators had already predicted the decline of the great sportsman. Bubka increased the world record by 21 centimetres (8 inches) in the 4 years between 1984 and 1988, more than other pole vaulters had achieved in the previous 12 years. He cleared 6.00 meters or better on 45 occasions, more than all other athletes in history combined (as of 20 April 2009 there have been 42 clearances of 6.00 metres by other athletes).[7] His manager was Andrzej Kulikowski.

Bubka officially retired from his pole vault career in 2001.


IAAF World Championships

Bubka won the pole vault event in 6 consecutive IAAF World Championships In Athletics from 1983 to 1997:

Tournament Venue Result Performance
1983 World Championships in Athletics Helsinki 1st 5.70
1987 World Championships in Athletics Rome 1st 5.85
1991 World Championships in Athletics Tokyo 1st 5.95
1993 World Championships in Athletics Stuttgart 1st 6.00
1995 World Championships in Athletics Gothenburg 1st 5.92
1997 World Championships in Athletics Athens 1st 6.01

Olympics curse

Though he had complete dominance on pole vaulting at his time, he was highly unlucky in the Olympic Games. The first Olympics after his introduction into international athletics was in 1984, which was boycotted by the USSR along with the other Eastern Bloc countries. Two months before the games he vaulted 12 cm higher than the eventual Olympic gold medal winner Pierre Quinon. In 1988 Bubka entered the Seoul Olympics and won his only Olympic gold medal. In 1992 he failed to clear in his first 3 attempts and was out of the Barcelona Olympics. At the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 a heel injury caused him to withdraw from the competition without making even one jump. In 2000 at the Sydney Olympics he was eliminated from the final after three attempts at 5.70 m.[8]

World record progression by Bubka

Bubka broke the world record for men's pole vaulting a total of 35 times in his career.[2] He broke the outdoor world record 17 times and the indoor world record 18 times. The fact that most of the time the record he improved was his own demonstrates his absolute dominance in the event. Exactly how high he could have jumped at his best is unknown: because of the large prizes on offer from event promoters for breaking world records, the majority of his world record attempts were made at 1 cm higher than the existing record, and once achieved, he would not attempt another record jump until the next opportunity to collect a prize, even after a substantial clearance showing he could have achieved a higher height.

"Serhiy Bubka" statue, Donetsk
Height (m) Date Place
6.14 31 July 1994 Sestriere
6.13 19 September 1992 Tokyo
6.12 30 August 1992 Padova
6.11 13 June 1992 Dijon
6.10 5 August 1991 Malmö
6.09 8 July 1991 Formia
6.08 9 June 1991 Moscow
6.07 6 May 1991 Shizuoka
6.06 10 July 1988 Nice
6.05 9 June 1988 Bratislava
6.03 23 June 1987 Prague
6.01 8 June 1986 Moscow
6.00 13 June 1985 Paris
5.94 31 August 1984 Rome
5.90 13 July 1984 London
5.88 2 June 1984 Paris
5.85 26 May 1984 Bratislava
Height (m) Date Place
6.15 21 February 1993 Donetsk
6.14 13 February 1993 Lievin
6.13 22 February 1992 Berlin
6.12 23 February 1991 Grenoble
6.11 19 March 1991 Donetsk
6.10 15 March 1991 San Sebastián
6.08 9 February 1991 Volgograd
6.05 17 March 1990 Donetsk
6.03 11 February 1989 Osaka
5.97 17 March 1987 Torino
5.96 15 January 1987 Osaka
5.95 28 February 1986 New York
5.94 21 February 1986 Inglewood
5.92 8 February 1986 Moscow
5.87 15 January 1986 Osaka
5.83 10 February 1984 Inglewood
5.82 1 February 1984 Milano
5.81 15 January 1984 Vilnius


Bubka possessed great strength, speed and gymnastic abilities.[2] His average speed during pole vaulting approach was reportedly 35.7 km/h (9.9 m/s, 22.2 mph)[citation needed]. He gripped the pole higher than most vaulters to get extra leverage, though Bubka himself played down the effect of grip alone.[9] Bubka's strength meant that he could use a pole that was relatively heavy for his weight, thereby generating more recoil force.

His development and mastery of the Petrov/Bubka technical model is also considered as a key to his success. A technical model is a sequence of positions and pressures that describe the method and form of a style of pole vaulting. The Petrov/Bubka model is superior to many others today because it allows the vaulter to continuously put energy into the pole while rising towards the bar.[citation needed] While most of the conventional models focus on heavy planting of the pole to the landing pad to create maximum bend in the pole even before they leave the ground, Petrov/Bubka model concentrates on driving the pole up rather than bending it while planting it on the landing pad. While the traditional models depended on the recoil by bending the pole, the Petrov/Bubka model could exploit the recoil of the pole and exert more energy on the pole during the swinging action.

Awards and positions held

  • Bubka won the Prince of Asturias Award in Sports in 1991
  • Bubka was awarded best sportsman of the Soviet Union for three years in a row from 1984 to 1986
  • Bubka was voted Sportsman of the Year for 1997 by the influential newspaper L'Équipe
  • Bubka was honored as the best pole vaulter of the last half century by Track & Field News
  • Bubka was designated as an IAAF council member in 2001
  • He is currently serving as the president of National Olympic Council (NOC) of Ukraine and is an IOC member[10]
  • Bubka was designated UNESCO Champion for Sport in 2003[11]
  • From 2002 to 2006, he was a member of the Ukrainian Parliament and its committee on questions of youth policy, physical culture, sport and tourism
  • Completed his term in IOC athletes commission in August 2008 [12]


  • "I love the pole vault because it is a professor's sport. One must not only run and jump, but one must think. Which pole to use, which height to jump, which strategy to use. I love it because the results are immediate and the strongest is the winner. Everyone knows it. In everyday life that is difficult to prove."[13] - Sergey Bubka
  • "Here is a man who has personally altered his art form, changed the way competitors prepare for it and perform it, even the way spectators perceive it." - Gary Smith of Sports Illustrated about Bubka
  • "My jump was imperfect, my run-in was too short and my hands were too far back at takeoff. When I manage to iron out these faults, I am sure I can improve." - In an interview after he was the first person to break 20 feet (6.10 m).


Sergey Bubka (1987) (in Russian). An Attempt is Reserved. Moscow: Molodaya gvardiya. 


  1. ^ International Olympic Committee. "Mr. Sergey BUBKA". Official website of the Olympic Movement. Retrieved 2008-07-13. "...voted world's best athlete on several occasions." 
  2. ^ a b c "Bubka says farewell". BBC News. 4 February 2001. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  3. ^ "Top Lists: Pole Vault". Retrieved 2009-06-29.  (Indoor)
  4. ^ a b "Top Lists: Pole Vault". Retrieved 2009-06-29.  (Outdoor)
  5. ^ "World Outdoor Records - Men". Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  6. ^ "World Indoor Records - Men". Retrieved 2009-06-29. 
  7. ^ "The Legendary Sergey Bubka". Inside Athletics (April, 2009 edition). Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  8. ^ "Sydney 2000 results". Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  9. ^ "On the Road to Atlanta". The Ukrainian Weekly. 1996-06-02. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  10. ^ "IOC > Members > Sergey Bubka". Official Website of the Olympic Movement. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 
  11. ^ "Ukrainian athlete Serhiy Bubka designated UNESCO Champion for Sport". 2003-11-04. Retrieved 2007-08-27. 
  12. ^ "Fredericks succeeds Bubka as chairman of IOC's Athletes Commission". 
  13. ^ Sergey Bubka to Gary Smith in Sports Illustrated, 14 September 1988, referenced in "Current Biography Excerpts: Track and Field". HW Wilson. Retrieved 2007-08-26. 

External links

Preceded by
Viktor Yanukovych
President of Ukrainian NOC
2005 - present
Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Canada Ben Johnson
Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
United States Roger Kingdom
Preceded by
Sweden Stefan Edberg
United Press International
Athlete of the Year

Succeeded by
United States Kevin Young
Preceded by
United States Michael Johnson
Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
United States Kevin Young
Sporting positions
Preceded by
France Thierry Vigneron
Men's Pole Vault Best Year Performance
1984 – 1989
Succeeded by
Soviet Union Rodion Gataullin
Preceded by
Soviet Union Rodion Gataullin
Men's Pole Vault Best Year Performance
1991 – 1994
Succeeded by
South Africa Okkert Brits
Preceded by
South Africa Okkert Brits
Men's Pole Vault Best Year Performance
1996 – 1997
Succeeded by
United States Jeff Hartwig


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