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Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium is where pole vault will take place as a part of the athletics events from the 6th to the 12th of October. There is both a men's and a women's section of this event. Each competitor can choose a height that they wish to clear for which they receive three attempts. If the first height is cleared they advance to the next one for which again they receive three attempts. It is immaterial if a vaulter clears a particular height or not since he will be eliminated from the competition only once he fails three times in a row to clear the bar.
Didn't get it? It means it is not necessary that a vaulter uses all of his 3 attempts to clear a particular height. Hypothetically if Sergey Bubka, the legendary pole vaulter, tries a height of 3.5m and fails the first time but believes so strongly in himself that he can beat a height of 4.02m then he sets the bar at this very height. Now since he used up his one attempt and failed at 3.5 he will only get 2 attempts for the 4.02m jump. If he fails both times he gets disqualified without having achieved any height.
Usually in an event like this, the vaulter who makes the highest leap wins. In case more than one vaulter achieves the same height then they compare the total misses at the final height. If that is also same then they compare the total misses in the competition. If still a tie remains between the vaulters, something like a football sudden death takes place. It is called a jump-off in which the vaulters first attempt the same height (last attempted height). If they miss, the bar is lowered and if they clear it, the bar is raised. Basically this goes on till one competitor misses and the other claims the victory.
Now let us look at the physics behind a vaulted jump closely. When readying themselves for a jump, each competitor is given a certain amount of time within which they must finish the vault. The time is dependent on the level of the competition and number of vaulters that remain. The first step when jumping is the approach. During the approach the vaulter starts with long strides keeping the pole upright to an extent and then lowers it gradually while increasing the speed of his strides. When the vaulter is ready to plant he has his right arm extended directly above his head and the left one perpendicular to the pole with his trail leg flown behind him so that once the pole hits the back of the pit it will bend and he can take-off. Swinging up as it sounds, consists of the vaulter swinging his trail leg forward, forming a "U" shape with his body and hugging the pole, to gain all the potential energy in the pole into his body for use later. Other techniques of swinging include the double leg drop and the tuck and shoot. At the end of the swing the hips go up and the shoulders down so that the vaulter is extended upside down. The fly away is described as the last step in which the vaulter pushes the pole so that it falls away from the bar.
In the last Commonwealth Games men's pole vault held at Melbourne (2006) Steven Hooker (5.8m) took the gold. The Australian was closely followed by fellow countryman Dmitri Markov (5.6m) and Steven Lewis (5.5m). Steve Hooker won Gold at the Beijing Olympics with a leap of 5.96m. His personal best of 6.06 achieved indoors is second only to the legendary Sergey Bubka who leapt 6.15 meters indoors.
The 28-year old would be a runaway favourite for the Delhi Games, and it would indeed be a huge shock if he picks up anything but Gold.Â Australia are yet to name another male vaulter to their Commonwealth Team. They do have four women pole vaulters in the side.
The 2008 and 2009 Australian pole vault champion, Alana Boyd is one of the contenders for the top prize in the women's event. She has a a personal best of 4.56m. However, likely to garner plenty of media attention is 15-year old prodigy Elizabeth Parnov, who recently also won a Silver medal at the Youth Olympics in Singapore. Elizabeth is coached by her father Alex, who incidentally also coaches Steve Hooker. Canada's Kelsie Hendry and England's Kate Dennison will be other superstars in the running for a podium finish.
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