#5 – Women’s Pole Vault
It’s first appearance in the Olympic program for women didn’t disappoint, with attempts at a new world record and a medal to Australia on Magic Monday, widely regarded as one of the greatest nights of athletics ever.Embed from Getty Images
Australia’s Emma George had been an earlier pioneer of the event, setting twelve world records during the 1990s. By 2000 she had lost the record to American Stacy Dragila, who had set a mark of 4.63m in winning the US Olympic Trials.
Nor was George Australia’s only vaulter, with Russian-born Tatiana Grigorieva having won a bronze medal at the previous year’s world championships. Ultimately it was Grigorieva who carried the nation’s hopes in the final, with George bowing out in the qualifying round.
4.00m was the opening height, with Grigorieva entering at 4.15m and missing her first attempt before clearing on her second. Dragila came into the competition at 4.25m and had a first attempt clearance.
Things started to get really interesting at 4.50m, with a field of five remaining. Still in the competition alongside Grigorieva and Dragila were Germany’s Nicole Humbert, Daniela Bartova from the Czech Republic and Iceland’s Vala Flosadottir. A first attempt clearance from Flosadottir had her in the gold medal position, while Bartova achieved the same and was in second following a number of misses at earlier heights. Grigorieva cleared on her second attempt and held third place, with Dragila requiring three attempts to go clear. Humber passed the height and the bar moved to 4.55m.
With a first attempt clearance Grigorieva shot into the lead! A new personal best. Only Dragila could clear the height, with Flosadottir settling for bronze on a countback.
On to 4.60m. Dragila was over on the first attempt while Grigorieva missed. To win gold she would now need to clear the next bar, which was 4.65m, two centimetres higher than the world record. Two gallant attempts weren’t successful, and with Dragila also missing her three attempts the competition was over. Gold, Stacy Dragila; Silver, Tatiana Grigorieva.