Sergey Bubka’s career as a pole vaulter has seen 35 world records, but there is one jump that stands apart from the rest. On July 13, 1985, Sergey Bubka of the Soviet Union became the first man to clear the six-meter barrier.
Bubka entered the mainstream world of athletics at the 1983 World Championship held in Helsinki, where the then unknown Soviet pole vaulter took the gold. From there on he began accumulating victories and setting world records attracting enormous attention to the sport.
The Los Angeles Times hailed Bubka as the next big thing:
“Bubka is a phenomenal jumper, totally bewildering. He represents the future generation of pole vaulters. He makes us reconsider the long standing perception of human capabilities. If anyone should be so lucky to conquer the six-meter height in the near future, it would be Bubka – contender number one.”
Their prediction came true in Paris. On the day of the competition Bubka had the bar raised to exactly six meters. The entire stadium went completely silent as the commentator announced Sergey onto the track. He raised his pole and began to trot down the runway, slowly at first, then faster. It seemed that during those seconds the attention of the whole world was focused on Bubka. Another few seconds passed and the crowd burst into ovation.
The new record holder took the sporting world by storm. The next morning headlines of all major newspapers read “sporting sensation of the year”, “a jump into the 21st century”. Bubka went on to win his only Olympic gold medal in Seoul, South Korea. By this time he was the crowd’s favorite. Thousands chanted “Bubka! Bubka! Bubka!” as soon as he would walk onto the track.
Sergey himself considers the six-meter vault to be the most important in his career “Recently I happened to be driving around that same place. I stopped the car and took my wife and sons to the stadium and did what I should have done all those years ago: I took a piece from the track’s covering for keepsake.”
Bubka represented the Soviet Union in all major men’s athletics events until 1991. He then represented Ukraine until his retirement in 2001. There has been no greater vaulter than Bubka. He currently holds the world record of 6.14 meters outdoor (set in 1994) and 6.15 meters indoor (1993).