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Athletics at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's Pole Vault

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Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: November 24, 1956
Date Finished: November 26, 1956

Gold: USA Bob Richards
Silver: USA Bob Gutowski
Bronze: GRE Georgios Roubanis


The defending champion, [Bob Richards], was back and was the favorite again. He had been AAU Champion every year since 1948, save for 1953, and was also Pan-American champion in 1951 and 1955. In the qualifying he missed twice at his opening height of 4.00 (13-1½), but got over on his third attempt and eventually qualified easily. There were expected to be two Europeans contending, [Ragnar Lundberg] (SWE), 1952 bronze medalist and 1950 European Champion, and 1954 European Champion, [Eeles Landström] of Finland. They would finish fifth and seventh respectively. The best European turned out to be the surprising [Georgios Roubanis] (GRE), who was the first vaulter to use a fiberglass pole in a major international competition. He used it to good effect, clearing a PR 4.50 (14-9) and winning the bronze medal. Richards won the competition for gold fairly easily. He jumped every height from 4.15 (13-7¼) to 4.53 (14-10¼) and had no misses. He then cleared 4.56 (14-11½) on his third attempt for the gold medal. Still with him at that height was American [Bob Gutowski], who had missed four times at earlier heights, and failed to clear 4.56 (14-11½), earning the silver medal. In April 1957, Gutowski vaulted 4.78 (15-8¼) in a collegiate dual meet for a world record, finally breaking the vaunted world record of 4.77 (15-7¾) set by Cornelius “Dutch” Warmerdam in 1942. Richards predicted that Gutowski would become the first 16-foot vaulter but he was killed in a car crash in August 1960.

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Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Bob Richards 30 United States USA Gold OR
2 Bob Gutowski 21 United States USA Silver
3 Georgios Roubanis 27 Greece GRE Bronze
4 George Mattos 27 United States USA
5 Ragnar Lundberg 32 Sweden SWE
6 Zenon Ważny 26 Poland POL
7 Eeles Landström 24 Finland FIN
8 Manfred Preußger 24 Germany GER
9T Giulio Chiesa 28 Italy ITA
9T Vladimir Bulatov 27 Soviet Union URS
11 Anatoly Petrov 27 Soviet Union URS
12 Zbigniew Janiszewski 25 Poland POL
13 Vitaliy Chernobai 27 Soviet Union URS
AC final Matti Sutinen 26 Finland FIN
15 QR Allah Ditta 23 Pakistan PAK
16 QR Rolando Cruz 17 Puerto Rico PUR
17 QR Bruce Peever 25 Australia AUS
18 QR Peter Denton 30 Australia AUS
AC QR Victor Sillon 28 France FRA