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Athletics at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Games:

Men's Pole Vault

Athletics at the 1964 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games

Events:
Phases:

Host City: Tokyo, Japan
Venue(s): National Stadium, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Date Started: October 15, 1964
Date Finished: October 17, 1964

Gold: USA Fred Hansen
Silver: GER Wolfgang Reinhardt
Bronze: GER Klaus Lehnertz

Summary

In May 1961, George Davies changed the pole vaulting world when he broke the world record with a fiberglass pole, clearing 4.83 (15-10) in the Big Eight Conference Championships. Between then and the 1964 Olympics, the world record was bettered 15 times. Improvement was so rapid that many marks never received IAAF approval, as they were quickly superseded by a better mark. The best jumpers in 1962-63 were John Pennel and Brian Sternberg. Sternberg broke the world record three times, the last on 7 June 1963. He was a superb athlete, also one of the best in the United States on the trampoline. On 28 June 1963 he was practicing on the trampoline doing a double-back with a full twist, a simple maneuver for him. But he landed badly, breaking his neck and was rendered a quadriplegic. He would never vault, or walk again, though he remained alive to 2008.

With Sternberg out, the favorites for Tokyo were Pennel and a vaulter who came on in 1964, Fred Hansen. Hansen set three world records in June-July 1964. He was AAU Champion in 1964 and won the Olympic Trials. Pennel injured his back shortly before the Olympics and would finish only 11th. In the final the competition came down to Hansen and three Germans, Wolfgang Reinhardt, Klaus Lehnertz (both FRG), and Manfred Preußger (GDR). All four cleared five metres on their first attempts. Hansen passed 5.05, while Reinhardt went over on his first try, with Lehnertz and Preußger failing at that height. Thus the gold medal was Reinhardt’s unless Hansen could outjump him at 5.10 (16-8¾). And he did, clearing 5.10 (16-8¾) on his third try while the German missed all three attempts.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Fred Hansen 24 United States USA Gold OR
2 Wolfgang Reinhardt 21 Germany GER Silver OR
3 Klaus Lehnertz 26 Germany GER Bronze OR
4 Manfred Preußger 32 Germany GER OR
5 Hennadiy Bleznitsov 23 Soviet Union URS OR
6 Rudolf Tomášek 27 Czechoslovakia TCH OR
7 Pentti Nikula 25 Finland FIN OR
8 Billy Gene Pemelton 23 United States USA OR
9 Igor Feld 23 Soviet Union URS OR
10 Gerry Moro 21 Canada CAN
11 John Pennel 24 United States USA
12 Risto Ankio 27 Finland FIN
13 Roman Lešek 27 Yugoslavia YUG
14 Taisto Laitinen 31 Finland FIN
15T Ignacio Sola 20 Spain ESP
15T Hervé d'Encausse 21 France FRA
15T Sergey Dyomin 20 Soviet Union URS
18 Khristos Papanikolaou 22 Greece GRE
10T QR Yang C. K. 31 Chinese Taipei TPE
20 QR Dave Stevenson 22 Great Britain GBR
21 QR Rolando Cruz 25 Puerto Rico PUR
22 QR Hisao Morita 25 Japan JPN
23 QR Werner Duttweiler 24 Switzerland SUI
24 QR Yoshimasa Torii 22 Japan JPN
25T QR Renato Dionisi 16 Italy ITA
25T QR Masashi Otsubo 26 Japan JPN
27 QR Paul Coppejans 31 Belgium BEL
AC QR Dimitar Khlebarov 30 Bulgaria BUL
AC QR Maurice Houvion 30 France FRA
AC QR Włodzimierz Sokołowski 24 Poland POL