Nike Talks World Indoors 2018: Week 3, Day 7, a look back at women's pole vault at Paris 2003, when Stacy Dragila ruled the skies

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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, for Week three, Day 7, we feature pole vault goddess Stacy Dragila, as she ruled the World Indoors in Paris, France (actually the facility at Bercy).

For more information on the World Indoors Birmingham in March 2018, please go to www.wicbirmingham2018.com .

Dragila_S-wide-Millrose03.jpgStacy Dragila, Millrose 2003, photo by PhotoRun.net

I believe it was in 1991. We had just put Carla Boravicka on the cover of American Athletics, showing her pole vaulting. In the issues, we also spoke of the new emerging events, the women's steeplechase and the women's pole vault. A prominent college coach at the time wrote me a note, chastizing me a bit about putting a woman steepler on the cover, and noting that he was expecting next a women pole vaulter. This was not a positive note, mind you.

Dragila_Stacy-USAOT04.jpgStacy Dragila, 2004 Olympic Trials, photo by PhotoRun.net

The women's pole vaut, in many ways, saved the pole vault as an event. Even with the fine vaulters on the men's side, the men's pole vault had become staid and boring. The excitement and growth of the pole vault for women was exciting to follow. In 1998, for example the world records changed hands with seven different athletes 11 diffferent times!

One of the true pioneers in the pole vault was Stacy Dragila. A former heptathlete, who had actually done a decathlon, Stacy was an all around athlete, who could compete with the very best.

The first World Championship for the women's pole vault was held in 1997 in Paris. Stacy was one of the top vaulters, with Emma George, the Australian vaulter, holding the World Record.

Dragila_Stacy1-BostonIn09.jpgStacy Dragila, 2009 Millrose Games, photo by PhotoRun.net

In Paris, Stacy faced the very best women vaulters in the world. These women, well the top six, would, at one time, hold European, Asian, American and World records. The pole vault was just improving each at an incredible rate, wtih more and more involvement from countries around the world. The IAAF announced the first Outdoor World Champs PB in Sevilla in 1999 and the IOC added it to the Sydney schedule in 2000.

But, in Paris, France, this was a first.

Again, having been involved in the sport some 45 years, one sees competitors who stick out. Stacy Dragila could have been a success in the heptathlon, but in the pole vault she shined.

Dragila put pressure on WR holder Emma George from the beginning and, in the first World Champs for women in the pole vault, took the gold. In equalling the PV World record of 4.40m, Stacy also took home $25,000 for a world record! Emma George was the silver in 4.36m and Weiyan Cai, China, took the bronze in 4.35m, an Asian record.

Stacy Dragila would win the 1999 World Outdoors, defeating WR holder Emma George once again. In 2000, Stacy would win the Olympic gold in Sydney.

An advocate for the pole vault, and women's sports, Stacy will be an IAAF Ambassador at the World Indoors in Birmingham. One of the finest athletes our sport has produced, and a fine interview, I look forward to catching up with one the trailblazers in our sport.

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