||Standards for Pole Vaulting
It happens all the time. Accidents occur and solutions are proposed,
but all too often a small group of volunteers must push the limits
of their resources to bring about needed improvement.
So it is with the stakeholders (literally) of active or experienced
pole vaulters on a new ASTM task force. The group includes an
orthopedic surgeon, a bronze-medal Olympian, an MIT biomechanic,
equipment specialists, trainers, and others who are funding studies
to support the development of voluntary consensus standards for
pole vaulting. Part of ASTM Committee F08 on Sports Equipment and Facilities, the group operates in Subcommittee
F08.52 on Miscellaneous Playing Surfaces.
According to the task force chairman, Eddie Seese, public and
private organizations want these standards. Were doing this
for sanctioning organizations, he said, naming USA Track and
Field, The National Federation of State High School Associations,
National Collegiate Athletic Association, and International Amateur
Athletic Federation. The High School Federation has stated that
they will adopt it as soon as we produce it. Were still trying
to find grant money to do the testing.
The sports origin is attributed to creative Europeans who pole
vaulted over canals. Gravitating to sportsdom, height, not distance,
became the goal. An elevation of 10 6 (about 3.2 m) was reached
with a bamboo pole in the 1896 Olympics; Sergey Bubkas hoist
of 20 1.75 (6.14 m) is the current world record.
Today, highly breakable fiberglass poles are the norm. One vaulter
related an episode where, enroute to a meet, he retrieved broken
poles from airport baggage. The poles pose both performance and
safety issues and the task force is considering the following:
A test of flexural properties to determine a universal and scientifically
reasonable measure of flexibility to aid manufacturers tailoring
hundreds of pole sizes.
A test of the deflection of poles to reduce catastrophic failure,
such as the angle poles should be bent, perhaps more than 90
degrees to represent commonly occurring situations.
The frequency of destructive testing.
Integration of existing ASTM standards to test pole and beam
A test of internal damping within poles. If poles differ significantly
in the internal damping they exhibit, measuring the flexural stiffness
may not be sufficient to properly convey pole-dynamic properties
to the user. Studies are needed to determine if this is a significant
The task force found small-sized pole vaulting pits to be problematic.
Were going to change the size requirements for the pits and
make them bigger, said Seese, a vaulter, trainer, and equipment
consultant with 38 years in the sport. In one study, the task
force reinvestigated a series of pole-vaulting accidents and they
determined that 32 out of 34 accidents could have been eliminated
if larger pits were used.
Industry and federation participation in this activity is invited.
The group meets June 21-23 in Eugene, Ore., at the USATF National
Comments may be directed to Eddie Seese, Personal Record Sports, Vallejo, Calif. (phone: 707/645-8555).
Committee F08 meets Nov. 6-9 in Dallas, Texas. For meeting or
membership details, contact Staff Manager Jim Olshefsky, ASTM (phone: 610/832-9714). //\
Copyright 2001, ASTM