ATHENS OLYMPICS: Germany's Eckerin latest Olympic pole vault saga
26 August 2004 , ATHENS - Olympic pole vault competitions has seen plenty of excitement and drama over the years, with German Danny Ecker providing the latest episode in this saga. With the height at 5.50m in Wednesday night's qualifying, Ecker realised only after failing his second attempt that the uprights were not positioned in the way he had asked for. Ecker informed the jury, but his plea to repeat the jump was dismissed. Ecker was down and out after his third attempt was foul as well and a subsequent
26 August 2004
ATHENS - Olympic pole vault competitions has seen plenty of excitement and drama over the years, with German Danny Ecker providing the latest episode in this saga.
With the height at 5.50m in Wednesday night's qualifying, Ecker realised only after failing his second attempt that the uprights were not positioned in the way he had asked for.
Ecker informed the jury, but his plea to repeat the jump was dismissed. Ecker was down and out after his third attempt was foul as well and a subsequent German protest was rejected.
After further intervention from the German camp the jury allowed Ecker one final jump after all, which he nailed in stunning fashion. Ecker went on to clear 5.70m to advance into Friday's final.
"I was like in trance. I had already mentally completed the competition and my career," Ecker revealed.
Ecker's mother, the long-jump and 4x100m gold medallist from Munich 1972, Heide Rosendahl-Ecker, said she was on an emotional roller-coaster ride in the stands.
"We had no idea what was going on. Every five minutes the coach had to inform us about the latest situation. I admired Danny how calm he remained in this uncertain situation," she said.
Ecker said that a little electronic board indicating the position of the uprights had "never been used before in the 140 competitions I have been in" and that pole vaulters normally just inform one jury member of where they want the uprights to stand.
Another little electronic board indicating time for the jump led to the famous downfall of Bubka 1992 in Barcelona where he failed to clear his opening height of 5.70m - a piece of cake given that his world record was 6.11m at the time.
Meet organisers at the time were seemingly lax towards Bubka about applying the two-minute rule in which a vault must be completed, but the rule was followed strictly at the Olympics which seemed to have unsettled the greatest vaulter of all times.
"To me it looked as if the clock was running faster than usual," said Bubka after his shocking failure.
Four years earlier the pole vaulters also made headlines in Seoul by objecting to the bars not being raised at the same interval in the two groups.
They refused to continue which left organisers with no other option than to advance 15 of the 21 vaulters into the final.
In 1980, Poland's Vladylav Kozakiewicz made an obscene gesture at a hostile Moscow crowd after getting the gold with a world record vault of 5.78m.
The 1972 competition in Munich saw the first non-U.S. winner in Olympic history in the form of East German Wolfgang Nordwig.
Nordwig profited from the fact that the ruling body IAAF permanently prohibited a new pole dubbed "cata-pole" on the eve of the qualifying round after an initial intervention of the East German team.
Bob Seagran, who along with Sweden's Kjell Isaksson had raised the world record several times ahead of the Olympics with the new pole, was furious after having to settle for silver and threw his pole into the lap of the IAAF official who was responsible for the "cata-pole" ban.
Controversy about equipment was in fact a long-standing affair in the sport.
Back in 1908 in London, the American athletes were prohibited to use the then new technique of planting the pole into a hole dug at the end of the runway.
But Edward Cooke nonetheless won gold for the U.S. although he had to return to using poles with a spike for his jumps.
Another legendary Olympic pole vault final took place 1964 in Tokyo - a marathon event which lasted almost nine hours and which American Frederick Morgan Hansen finally won ahead of Germans Wolfgang Reinhardt and Klaus Lehnertz.
Subject: German news