An Illustrated History of Pole Vault
By Mike Rosenbaum, About.com Guide
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Where pole vaulting is now
Tim Mack (right) won the gold while fellow American Toby Stevenson earned the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics
Michael Steele/Getty Images
Advances in pole-making technology are primarily responsible for the huge increase in pole vaulting heights over the years. William Hoyt won the 1896 Olympic pole vault with a leap of 3.30 meters. By comparison, the gold medal vault of American Tim Mack (above) measured 5.95 meters. Today's poles, made from carbon fiber and fiberglass composite materials, are lighter - permitting greater speed on the approach - stronger and more flexible than their predecessors.