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Athletics at the 1908 London Summer Games:

Men's Pole Vault

Athletics at the 1908 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): White City Stadium, London
Date Started: July 24, 1908
Date Finished: July 24, 1908

Gold: USA Ed Cook
USA A. C. Gilbert
Bronze: CAN Ed Archibald
SWE Bruno Söderström
USA Clare Jacobs


The world record was 12-9 (3.90), which had recently been set by [Walter Dray] (USA) on 13 June 1908. The Olympic record had been set by [Charles Dvorak] at St. Louis in 1904, with 11-6 (3.50). Neither Dvorak nor Dray competed, although Dray had finished in a four-way tie for first at the 1908 IC4A Meet on 30 May. Dray had tied with [A. C. Gilbert], [Frank Nelson], and Charles Campbell, and all four competed for Yale University's track team. Dray withdrew because his mother was concerned that he might be injured if he competed. Gilbert had also won the Eastern Olympic Trial with Dray and Nelson tieing for second. Among other nations, the top vaulters were Sweden's [Bruno Söderström], 1907 AAA champion and silver medalist in 1906, and Canada's [Ed Archibald], who had cleared 12-5 (3.80) in Canada earlier in the season and three weeks before the Games had won the British title at 12-0 (3.66).

Five competitors broke the Olympic record, and two more equalled the former record. The Americans, Alfred "A. C." Gilbert and [Ed Cook] shared first place at 12-2 (3.71) with Archibald and Söderström tieing with [Charles Jacobs] (USA) for third. The closing stages of the competition were considerably delayed as they coincided with the dramatic happenings at the finish of the marathon. Because of the time factor, the officials decided against holding jump-offs for first and third places and, in an unusual decision, two gold and three bronze medals were awarded.

For the last time in Olympic competition, the "climbing" technique was permitted although it remained legal in England until 1920. Among their numerous protests, the Americans argued about the fact that there was no pit or hole in which to plant the pole and also that there was no sandpit or bales of straw to break the competitors falls. This protest was understandable as the organizers were definitely behind the times in these matters as these facilities had been provided at the two previous Olympic Games.

Edward Cook was a fine all-around jumper and hurdler. He won the IC4A long jump in 1908 and 1909, the AAU pole vault in 1907 and tied for first in the AAU pole vault in 1911. Gilbert spread his athletic talents even farther, winning the 1905 Yale gymnastics championship and was intercollegiate wrestling champion in 1906. Gilbert earned an M.D. degree from Yale but never practiced medicine. He later made a fortune as president of the toy company that bore his name and manufactured Erector Sets, American Flyer electric trains, and other popular toys.

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinal RoundQualifying Round

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal H(M) H(I)
1T A. C. Gilbert 24 United States USA Gold 3.71 12-2 =OR
1T Ed Cook 19 United States USA Gold 3.71 12-2 =OR
3T Clare Jacobs 22 United States USA Bronze 3.58 11-9
3T Bruno Söderström 26 Sweden SWE Bronze 3.58 11-9
3T Ed Archibald 24 Canada CAN Bronze 3.58 11-9
6T Georgios Banikas 19 Greece GRE 3.50 11-6
6T Sam Bellah 20 United States USA 3.50 11-6
8 Kálmán Szathmáry 18 Hungary HUN 3.35 11-0
9 Stefanos Kountouriotis Greece GRE 3.27 10-9
10T Robert Pascarel 19 France FRA 3.20 10-6
10T Carl Silfverstrand 22 Sweden SWE 3.20 10-6
12T Thomas Jackson 24 United States USA 3.05 10-0
12T Gaston Koëger 20 France FRA 3.05 10-0
14 Coen van Veenhuijsen 21 Netherlands NED 2.89 9-6
15 Bram Evers 21 Netherlands NED 2.82 9-3