Pole Vault Technology
Competitive pole vaulting began using solid ash poles. As the heights attained increased, the bamboo poles gave way to tubular aluminum, which was tapered at each end. Today's pole vaulters benefit from poles produced by wrapping pre-cut sheets of fiberglass that contains resin around a metal pole mandrel, to produce a slightly pre-bent pole that bends more easily under the compression caused by an athlete's take-off. The shape of the fiberglass sheets and the amount of fiberglass used is carefully planned to provide the desired length and stiffness of pole. Different fiber types, including carbon-fiber, are used to give poles specific characteristics intended to promote higher jumps. In recent years, carbon fiber has been added to the commonly used E-glass and S-glass materials to create a pole with a lighter carry weight.
As in the high jump, the landing area was originally a heap of sawdust or sand where athletes landed on their feet. As technology enabled higher vaults, mats evolved into bags of large chunks of foam. Today's high-tech mats are foam usually 1–1.5 meters (3 ft 3 in–4 ft 10 in) thick. Mats are growing larger in area as well to minimize risk of injury. Proper landing technique is on the back or shoulders. Landing on the feet should be avoided, to eliminate the risk of injury to the lower extremities, particularly ankle sprains.
Rule changes over the years have resulted in larger landing areas and additional padding of all hard and unyielding surfaces.
The pole vault crossbar has evolved from a triangular aluminum bar to a round fiberglass bar with rubber ends. This is balanced on standards and can be knocked off when it is hit by a pole vaulter or the pole. Rule changes have led to shorter pegs and crossbar ends that are semi-circular.
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