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Athletics at the 1912 Stockholm Summer Games:

Men's Pole Vault

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Host City: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue(s): Stockholm Olympic Stadium, Stockholm
Date Started: July 10, 1912
Date Finished: July 11, 1912

Gold: USA Harry Babcock
Silver: USA Frank Nelson
USA Marc Wright
Bronze: CAN William Halpenny
SWE Bertil Uggla
USA Frank Murphy


In this era, the United States absolutely dominated pole vaulting. In fact, the final came down to 11 vaulters, eight of them American, with lone athletes from Canada, Germany, and Sweden. There was no clear American favorite.

A review of recent performances shows how open the competition would be among the United States’ vaulters. The most recent AAU titles had been won as follows: 1909 - Roy Paulding, 1910 - [Harry Babcock], and 1911 - a three-way tie between [Ed Cook], [Frank Coyle], and [Sam Bellah]. Cook was the defending Olympic champion, having shared the 1908 gold medal with [A. C. Gilbert]. The three U.S. Olympic trials, went as follows: Western - Bellah won; Central - [Frank Murphy] won, with Coyle second; and Eastern - [Marc Wright] won, with [Frank Nelson] second.

The world record had also taken a recent beating by the American vault crew. At the beginning of 1912, the mark stood at 3.93, set in Boulder, Colorado on 27 May 1910 by Leland Scott. But at the IC4A title in Philadelphia on 1 June 1912, Yale’s Robert Gardner won, clearing 3.985 (13-1), the first 13-foot vault. The mark lasted only a week, as Marc Wright won the eastern Olympic Trial with the first four-metre vault, clearing 13-2¼ (4.02).

Of the above mentioned American vaulters, all but Cook, Gilbert, Paulding, and Gardner competed at Stockholm, giving the United States six top vaulters from which to choose. Among other nations, the Swedes championed [Bertil Uggla], while Canada sent [William Halpenny], who had been United States’ AAU champion in 1908 and would win the Canadian championship in 1911-1913.

The final six vaulters came down to Uggla, Halpenny, and four Americans - Babcock, Nelson, Wright and Murphy. At 3.85 metres, Halpenny had to withdraw, having broken two ribs in clearing 3.80. He was joined by Uggla and Murphy who failed to clear 3.85. At 3.85, Harold Babcock cleared on his first attempt, while Nelson and Wright needed two efforts. But when the bar was raised to 3.95, only Babcock was successful, again on one attempt. He took three shots at a new world record of 4.06 (13-3¾) but failed.

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Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Harry Babcock 21 United States USA Gold OR
2T Frank Nelson 24 United States USA Silver OR
2T Marc Wright 22 United States USA Silver OR
3T William Halpenny 29 Canada CAN Bronze OR
3T Bertil Uggla 21 Sweden SWE Bronze OR
3T Frank Murphy 22 United States USA Bronze OR
7 Sam Bellah 24 United States USA OR
8T Frank Coyle 25 United States USA
8T Gordon Dukes 23 United States USA
8T Bill Fritz 20 United States USA
11 Robert Pasemann 25 Germany GER
12T QR Carl HÃ¥rleman 25 Sweden SWE
12T QR Richard Sjöberg 21 Sweden SWE
12T QR Clas Gille 24 Sweden SWE
15 QR Fernand Gonder 28 France FRA
16T QR Fritz Bøchen Vikke 28 Denmark DEN
16T QR Ulrich Baasch 22 Russia RUS
18T QR Viktor Franzl 19 Austria AUT
18T QR Georgios Banikas 23 Greece GRE
18T QR Magnus Nilsson 23 Sweden SWE
18T QR Hugo Svensson 21 Sweden SWE
18T QR Sander Santesson 25 Sweden SWE
23T QR Jindřich Jirsák 27 Bohemia BOH
23T QR Manlio Legat 22 Italy ITA
NP QR Johann Martin 19 Russia RUS