For the next two months, Nike is sponsoring a daily homage to the World Indoors. From Monday to Friday, we feature athletes from US, UK, Europe, Africa and Asia. On Saturdays and Sundays, we feature a great moment from World Indoor Championship history, again thanks to sponsor, Nike. We hope that you like this series.
Today, we feature the 1987 World Indoor Champs Men’s pole vault.
The World Indoor Championships was first held in 1987, in the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis.
The 1987 World Indoor Championships was a changing of the generations of athletes. The men’s gold medalist, then 24. The talented Ukranian had won his first World Championship gold, well, in the first World Championships in 1983 in Helsinki.
The World Championships was the dream of the late Primo Nebiola, one of the true characters of our sport. The late James Dunaway, a long time editor of our publication, American Track & Field, once told me a story about Primo, at a bar, in Moscow, telling Dunaway about how the sport should have a World Championships and Dunaway thought it was more dream than reality.
The 1983 World Championships had been a huge success. In 1987, there would be both World Indoors and World Outdoors. Three decades later, the World Championships are a huge success.
But, I have digressed.
In 1987, the World Indoor Champs was a success in Indy! Sergey Bubka won his first World Indoors title (Sergey had also won the 1985 World Indoor Games in Paris, renamed to World Indoors in 1987).
Sergey Bubka was one of the most talented athletes of any generation of our sport. In his career, Sergey broke World Records 35 times, 17 times outdoors and 18 times indoors. Bubka was a rock star. I recall, joing 4000 fans in 1995 at the Bruce Jenner Classic, waiting to watch Sergey Bubka jump. He was the greatest.
Watching Bubka jump, it was obvious that this first Soviet, then Ukranian pole vaulter was a tremendous athlete. His speed, his agility, his focus was always there. But, Sergey Bubka was much more than that. He was a force of nature, and is a force of nature. When I finally met him at the European Indoors in 2011, Sergey told me the story about his first World Record, in Bratislava, on 26 May 1984, I was mesmerized. He was Bubka.
I recall at story from Kory Tarpening, the great American vaulter. He was in Barcelona in 1992 and spoke to Sergey, who was dealing with achilles issues at the time. Mr. Tarpening asked Sergey how he was feeling and that he wished him luck. Sergey, in all of his Bubka greatness, noted, ” I do not need luck. I am Sergey Bubka.”
God, I love that story!
Sergey won in 1987, with a height of 5.85m, with two of my all time favorites, Earl Bell, USA, 5.80m and Thiery Vigneron, 5.80m. WR indoors at time was 5.96m, set by Sergey at Osaka, Japan on 15 January 1987.
But this event should remind us of many things, the most important of all, that great rivalries have built our sport!
For more on the 2018 World Indoors in Birmingham, please go to www.wicbirmingham2018.com.