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. Twenty-one athletes from 12 nations competed. 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
Wolfgang Nordwig (1965)
|Dates||September 1 & 2|
|Competitors||21 from 12 nations|
|Winning time||5.50 OR|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
|Wolfgang Nordwig||East Germany||A||—||—||o||5.10||Q|
|5||Reinhard Kuretzky||West Germany||B||o||o||o||5.10||Q|
|Bob Seagren||United States||A||—||—||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|
|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|
|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|
|6||Volker Ohl||West Germany||—||—||xo||xo||xxx||N/A||5.20|
|—||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|
- "Athletics at the 1972 Munich Summer Games: Men's Pole Vault". sports-reference.com. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- "Pole Vault, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 22 September 2020.
- Official Report, vol. 3, p. 60.