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This study explains the general aspects of the biomechanics of the pole vault and presents a 3D analysis of the best official performances of the top 8 pole vaulters at the 1992 summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. Two time code synchronized S-VHS video cameras operating at 50 Hz were used. All vaulters showed a reduced last stride and a low CM during the penultimate foot support. Great horizontal velocity at takeoff, high grip, and well timed angular momentum serve as good indicators of a jumper's performance. An early positioning of the hips parallel to the bar can be very beneficial, as can a close placement of the CM to the bar at the time of pole release. Finally, an advantageous bar clearance technique used by the winning Unified Team vaulters is noted.
R.M. Angulo-Kinzler, X. Balius, C. Turro, J.M. Caubet, J. Escoda, and J.A. Prat are with the Biomechanics Department, Centre d'Alt Rendiment, Barcelona, Spain. S.B. Kinzler is with the Computer Science Dept. at Indiana University. R.M. Angulo-Kinzler is also with the Kinesiology Dept., HPER 112, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405; request reprints from her at this address.