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Haile Gebrselassie defeats Paul Tergat at the 2000 Olympics

Top 10 contests from the Sydney Olympics

#4 – Men’s Pole Vault

Just like the women’s competition, the men’s pole vault competition was something special.

The qualifying rounds featured two notable events featuring Ukranian athletes: Denys Yurchenko landing very awkwardly on his own pole (much to the amusement of Roy & HG on The Dream); but more notably, world record holder Sergey Bubka continuing his run of no heighting at the Olympic Games.

Bubka finished his career with a solitary Olympic gold medal from 1988. He had only cleared 5.60m indoors in 2000, but at the time was one of only the only two men to have won a world championship in the pole vault, stunningly winning all six editions from 1983 to 1997. His 1997 victory, a clutch 6.01m performance against the odds, and rumours of him clearing some significant bars in training in Sydney, meant he couldn’t be discounted.

Until he could be. It was symbolically a changing of the guard and athletes in the final made the most of their opportunity. Eight athletes attempted 5.90m, the height the medals were decided at, and five the even higher 5.96m. Four athletes cleared the winning height, but no jump off was needed for the win, nor ties for the minor places.

Australia’s two protagonists in the top eight were Dmitriy Markov and Victor Chistiakov, while Commonwealth compatriot Okkert Brits from South Africa, Germans Danny Ecker and Michael Stolle, Russia’s Maxim Tarasov and Americans Nick Hysong and Lawrence Johnson were the other competitors clear at 5.80m and to see the bar raise to 5.90m.

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After 5.80m there was a three way tie for the lead, with Markov, Chistiakov and Johnson all having a clean sheet at earlier heights. Hysong, who had finished second at the US Trials and had a personal best of 5.85m from earlier in the season leapt from out of the medals, to into the gold medal position, with a first attempt clearance and new personal best of 5.90m.

Johnson was over at 5.90m on his second attempt and in outright second, following Tarasov and Stolle clearing on their third attempt. Markov missed his first two attempts, and decided to leave his third for the next height.

On to 5.96m. Try as they might, none could clear the bar and the medals were decided. Gold to Hysong, silver to Johnson and bronze to Tarasov, who with two less misses across the competition that Stolle, left the German the unlucky athlete to clear 5.90m and miss a medal.

Next -> #3 – Men’s Long Jump
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