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Athletics at the 1948 London Summer Games:

Men's Pole Vault

Athletics at the 1948 Summer Games: Previous Summer Games ▪ Next Summer Games


Host City: London, Great Britain
Venue(s): Empire Stadium, Wembley, London
Date Started: July 31, 1948
Date Finished: August 2, 1948

Gold: USA Guinn Smith
Silver: FIN Erkki Kataja
Bronze: USA Bob Richards


The greatest pole vaulter between 1936 and 1948 was Cornelius “Dutch” Warmerdam, who was the first man to clear 15 feet, and is usually considered either the greatest pole vaulter ever or second only to [Sergey Bubka]. When he retired he had 43 jumps over 15 feet, and nobody else had yet cleared that barrier. He never got to compete in the Olympics, although his world records would last until 1957. Favored was [Richmond “Boo” Morcom] who had won the AAU in 1945, 1947, and 1948 and the Olympic Trials in 1948. He had tied for the 1948 AAU with [Bob Richards], who also made the US Team. The third US vaulter was [Guinn Smith], who had tied at the Olympic Trials with Morcom on height, losing on the countback. In London Morcom competed on an injured ankle and placed only sixth. The final was contested in the rain, as many events in London were in 1948. Only Smith, Richards, and Finland’s [Erkki Kataja] were successful at 4.20 (13-9¼) – Smith and Kataja clear, with Richards missing once. Kataja led after that height as he had no misses. But Smith made 4.30 (14-1¼) on his third attempt to keep the American pole vault gold medal streak intact – they had won all the gold medals in this event except for the 1906 Intercalated Olympics.

View a Phase of this EventFinal StandingsFinal RoundQualifying Round

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Guinn Smith 28 United States USA Gold
2 Erkki Kataja 24 Finland FIN Silver
3 Bob Richards 22 United States USA Bronze
4 Erling Kaas 32 Norway NOR
5 Ragnar Lundberg 23 Sweden SWE
6 Boo Morcom 27 United States USA
7T Valto Olenius 27 Finland FIN
7T Hugo Göllors 28 Sweden SWE
9T Victor Sillon 20 France FRA
9T Joe Barbosa 19 Puerto Rico PUR
9T José Vicente 26 Puerto Rico PUR
12 Allan Lindberg 30 Sweden SWE
13 QR Georges Breitman 28 France FRA
14T QR Theodosios Balafas 24 Greece GRE
14T QR Torfi Bryngeirsson 21 Iceland ISL
16 QR Luis Ganoza 27 Peru PER
17T QR Charles Bouvet 29 France FRA
17T QR Dick Webster 33 Great Britain GBR
17T QR Jaime Piqueras Peru PER