New Pole Vault Rule Change Angers World Record Holder

The IAAF plans to reduce the amount of time given for each pole vault attempt next year, and world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France is not a fan of the change. At this weekend's Prefontaine Classic, Lavillenie spoke out passionately against the new rules.
 
The IAAF Council quietly approved 2017-2018 rule changes at its April meeting, which were published on the IAAF website a few weeks later. The changes include reducing the amount of time given for attempts in the vertical jumps from 60 seconds to 30 seconds.
 
"I am actually fighting against them, because it is one of the worst ideas I have ever seen," Lavillenie said. "The thing is, just one minute is actually just enough... it's just not safe [reducing the time]. Pole vault is a dangerous event."
 
When word began to spread of the changes, Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris said that it would negatively impact the quality of vault performances, and two-time world championships silver medalist Monika Pyrek tweeted that perhaps a rule should be considered for officials to ensure they put the bar up quickly. The elite vault community isn't unanimous, though: Olympic gold medalist Katerina Stefanidi supports the change.
 



Pole vaulters often need to adjust which pole they use or where they start their approach if the wind changes direction or intensity. If their allotted time is cut in half, Lavillenie fears there will be a lot of crashes and accidents on windy days.
 
"There are a lot of ways to get [the event] faster than reducing the timing, which means that you get people in danger," he said. "I don't think it is a good way."
 
But the world-record holder isn't just passively complaining about it. He said that he is in contact with the IAAF Athletes' Commission, and he is working to get the opinion of other vaulters and show that they are a "big family" that fights together.
 
When asked if he would consider anything as dramatic as Tim Lobinger--who famously dropped his shorts and mooned the crowd at the 2003 World Athletics Final in protest of numerous rule changes--Lavillenie laughed and indicated he wouldn't have a similar stunt in the works.
 
"Nothing crazy like that," Lavillenie said. "That was just personal for him."
 
But Lavillenie echoed the sentiment that many in the pole vault community have felt for years: that it's not right that the IAAF has made numerous changes to the rules and technical specifications to the pole vault without ever resetting the world records.
 
In the years since Sergei Bubka dominated the event, the pole vault has seen the time for attempts reduced from 90 seconds to 60, the pegs that the bar rests on shortened from 75mm to 55mm, the crossbar ends changed from a square shape to a semi-circular shape, and rules prohibiting the vaulter from steadying the bar with their hand. Despite these significant changes, the IAAF never reset any records, and Bubka held the world record continuously from 1984 until 2014, when Lavillenie broke it. Bubka is a member of the IAAF Council that approves all rule changes. As the IAAF plans to make another significant change to the event, its current world-record holder feels that the records should be reset.
 
"The world record was with old [rules]," Lavillenie said. "We should have a new world record."

Although the IAAF has not publicly stated a reason for this change, it has repeatedly expressed a desire to make track meets run faster and to speed up the field events. Lavillenie feels there are other ways to speed up the pole vault besides reducing the amount of time allotted to the athletes. Although he did not elaborate on ways to speed up the event, three things have traditionally accomplished that: smaller fields, more aggressive height progressions, and proper officiating.
 
Lavillenie ended his comments by saying, "I don't think the IAAF wants to get accidents because of the timing. They just have to think about it."

​Follow Becca Peter at @polevaultpower

Kenny Bednarek Makes History With 19.82/44.73 Double At JUCOs

One day after riding a blustering tailwind to the fastest wind-aided 200m in history, Indian Hills freshman Kenny Bednarek decided to give wind legal a try on the final day of the 2019 NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The result? Still damn fast.

Shanghai Diamond League: Lyles Stuns Coleman, Samba Tops Benjamin

The second leg of the 2019 Diamond League season made its stop in Shanghai, China, on Saturday, and it was jam-packed with marquee matchups and tight finishes.

Kenny Bednarek Runs Fastest Wind-Aided 200m In History

If you’ve ever wondered how fast a world-class sprinter could run with a comically strong tailwind, Indian Hills Community College freshman Kenny Bednarek had your answer on Friday with his 19.49 200m (+6.1 m/s) in the 2019 NJCAA Track and Field prelims.

What Did It Take To Qualify For NCAA Prelims Over The Years?

Since the NCAA moved to a two-regional system in 2010, the qualification process for the NCAA Championships has consisted of the top 48 individuals and top 24 relays in the West and East regions competing for 12 qualifying spots during the last weekend of May.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Samba/Benjamin Pt. I, McLaughlin Debut Headline Shanghai DL

The first six-ish weeks of the professional track season have offered one clear lesson: the late World Championships aren’t going to tamp down fast times. From Michael Norman’s 43.45 to Shaunae Miller-Uibo’s 49.05, it’s feeling like mid-August already. Perhaps the non-championship year in 2018 caused some energy and emotion to be bottled up, only being released in a year with a clear championship target. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Schneider, Praught-Leer Notch 5k Olympic Standards At Oxy

(c) 2019 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

NCAA Prelim Entries Reaction: Six Scratches You Need To Know

With Wednesday’s release of the NCAA East and West Preliminary Round declarations, we now know the 48 athletes in every individual event and 24 relay teams that will compete in Jacksonville and Sacramento for a spot at the NCAA Championships in Austin.

House Of Run: Evaluating The U.S. Performance At World Relays

Jason and Kevin discuss Matthew Boling’s epic weekend, the struggles of the US at the World Relays, Mondo Duplantis’ collegiate record, a big NCAA upset, an American record in the 25K and this weekend’s Shanghai Diamond League.

Infinite Tucker's SEC Superman Dive Deserved An Article

The following is an actual conversation between FloTrack writers Kevin Sully and Lincoln Shryack regarding Infinite Tucker’s Superman dive to win the SEC 400m hurdles title over the weekend.

Mondo Breaks Collegiate Record, Roberts Upsets Holloway

Ever since Mondo Duplantis stepped on campus at LSU, breaking the collegiate record seemed inevitable. That’s a logical assumption when you vault 6.05 meters en route to a gold medal at the European Championships before you begin your freshman year.