Athletics at the 1972 Summer Olympics – Men's pole vault

The men's pole vault field event at the 1972 Olympic Games took place on September 1 & 2.[1] Twenty-one athletes from 12 nations competed.[2] The maximum number of athletes per nation had been set at 3 since the 1930 Olympic Congress. The event was won by Wolfgang Nordwig of East Germany, the first non-American to win the event. Nordwig and silver medalist Bob Seagren were the third and fourth men to win multiple medals in the event.

Men's pole vault
at the Games of the XX Olympiad
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-D0812-0012-002, Wolfgang Nordwig.jpg
Wolfgang Nordwig (1965)
VenueOlympic Stadium
DatesSeptember 1 & 2
Competitors21 from 12 nations
Winning time5.50 OR
1st place, gold medalist(s) Wolfgang Nordwig
 East Germany
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Bob Seagren
 United States
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Jan Johnson
 United States
← 1968
1976 →

Controversy arose when the new Cata-Pole, used by defending champion American Seagren and Sweden's Kjell Isaksson, was declared to be illegal, by the IAAF, on 25 July. The pole was banned based on the fact that the pole contained carbon fibers; after an East German-led protest revealed that it contained no carbon fibers, the ban was lifted on 27 August. Three days later the IAAF reversed itself again, reinstating the ban. The poles were then confiscated from the athletes. Seagren and Isaksson believed this gave other athletes, like the eventual gold medalist, Wolfgang Nordwig, an unfair advantage. Seagren and Isaksson were given substitute poles which they had never used before to jump with. Isaksson, who had lost the world record to Seagren only 2 months earlier, didn't clear a height in the qualifying round and was eliminated. After Seagren’s last vault he was so incensed by the way IAAF officials handled the event, he took the pole he had been forced to vault with and handed it back to IAAF President Adriaan Paulen.[1]

This was the first Olympics where the pole vault had not been won by an American. Prior to 1972, USA had won 16 straight. Since 1972 USA has only won the men's pole vault twice, equalling the record of Poland and components of the USSR. France has won three times since 1984.


This was the 17th appearance of the event, which is one of 12 athletics events to have been held at every Summer Olympics. The returning finalists from the 1968 Games were gold medalist Bob Seagren of the United States, bronze medalist Wolfgang Nordwig of East Germany, fourth-place finisher Christos Papanikolaou of Greece, seventh-place finisher (and 1964 finalist) Hervé d'Encausse of France, tenth-place finisher Kjell Isaksson of Sweden, and thirteenth-place finisher Mike Bull of Great Britain. Seagren, Nordwig, Papanikolaou, and Isaksson had all held the world record at some point since the Mexico City Games; Seagren came into Munich with the record at 5.63 metres. He and Isaksson were the favorites, with Nordwig a strong contender—at least until the former two had to change poles.[2]

For the third time in Olympic history, no nation made its debut in the event. The United States made its 17th appearance, the only nation to have competed at every Olympic men's pole vault to that point.

Competition formatEdit

The competition used the two-round format introduced in 1912, with results cleared between rounds. Vaulters received three attempts at each height. Ties were broken by the countback rule. At the time, total attempts was used after total misses.

In the qualifying round, the bar was set at 4.60 metres, 4.80 metres, 5.00 metres, and 5.10 metres. All vaulters clearing 5.10 metres advanced to the final. If fewer than 12 cleared that height, the top 12 (including ties) advanced.

In the final, the bar was set at 4.80 metres, 5.00 metres, 5.10 metres, 5.20 metres, 5.30 metres, and then increased by 5 centimetres as a time.[2][3]


Prior to the competition, the existing World and Olympic records were as follows.

World record   Bob Seagren (USA) 5.63 Eugene, United States 2 July 1972
Olympic record   Bob Seagren (USA)
  Claus Schiprowski (FRG)
  Wolfgang Nordwig (GDR)
5.40 Mexico City, Mexico 16 October 1968

Bob Seagren and Wolfgang Nordwig each cleared 5.40 metres to match their shared Olympic record; only Nordwig was able to clear 5.45 metres to break it. He also succeeded at 5.50 to set the new Olympic mark there.



  • o = Height cleared
  • x = Height failed
  • = Height passed
  • r  = Retired
  • SB = Season's best
  • PB = Personal best
  • NR = National record
  • AR = Area record
  • OR = Olympic record
  • WR = World record
  • WL = World lead
  • NM = No mark
  • DNS = Did not start
  • DQ = Disqualified

All heights are listed in metres.


All jumpers reaching 5.10 m (16 ft 9 in) and the top 12 including ties qualified for the finals. No vaulters had any failures at 4.60 metres (all either passed or cleared on the first try, though the Official Report does not indicate which for each vaulter).

Rank Athlete Nation Group 4.80 5.00 5.10 Height Notes
1 Antti Kalliomäki   Finland A o 5.10 Q
Wolfgang Nordwig   East Germany A o 5.10 Q
3 Bruce Simpson   Canada B o o 5.10 Q
Hervé d’Encausse   France A o o 5.10 Q
5 Reinhard Kuretzky   West Germany B o o o 5.10 Q
6 François Tracanelli   France B xo 5.10 Q
Bob Seagren   United States A xo 5.10 Q
8 Hans Lagerqvist   Sweden A o xo 5.10 Q
9 Volker Ohl   West Germany A o o xo 5.10 Q
10 Jan Johnson   United States A o xo xo 5.10 Q
11 Tadeusz Ślusarski   Poland B o xxx 5.00 q
12 Wojciech Buciarski   Poland B xo xxx 5.00 q
13 Khristos Papanikolaou   Greece A xxo xo xxx 5.00 q
14 Ingemar Jernberg   Sweden B xo xxo xxx 5.00 q
15 Silvio Fraquelli   Italy B o xxx N/A 4.80
16 Ray Boyd   Australia B xo xxx N/A 4.80
Mike Bull   Great Britain B xo xxx N/A 4.80
18 Steve Smith   United States A xxo xxx N/A 4.80
Kjell Isaksson   Sweden A xxx N/A No mark
Kirk Bryde   Canada B xxx N/A No mark
Renato Dionisi   Italy A xxx N/A No mark
Abass Goudiaby   Senegal B DNS


Rank Athlete Nation 4.80 5.00 5.10 5.20 5.30 5.35 5.40 5.45 5.50 5.56 Height Notes
  Wolfgang Nordwig   East Germany o xo o xo o xxo xxx 5.50 OR
  Bob Seagren   United States o o xxo xxx N/A 5.40
  Jan Johnson   United States xo xo xxx N/A 5.35
4 Reinhard Kuretzky   West Germany o xo xxo xo o xxx N/A 5.30
5 Bruce Simpson   Canada o xxo o xxx N/A 5.20
6 Volker Ohl   West Germany xo xo xxx N/A 5.20
7 Hans Lagerqvist   Sweden xo xxo xxx N/A 5.20
8 François Tracanelli   France o xxx N/A 5.10
9 Ingemar Jernberg   Sweden xxo xo xxx N/A 5.10
10 Wojciech Buciarski   Poland o xxx N/A 5.00
11 Khristos Papanikolaou   Greece o o xxx N/A 5.00
Antti Kalliomäki   Finland xxx N/A No mark
Hervé d’Encausse   France xxx N/A No mark
Tadeusz Ślusarski   Poland xxx N/A No mark


  1. ^ a b "Athletics at the 1972 Munich Summer Games: Men's Pole Vault". Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Pole Vault, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
  3. ^ Official Report, vol. 3, p. 60.

External linksEdit