Serhii Nazarovych Bubka, the most famous pole vaulter, who represented the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991, has successfully broke the world record for men's pole vault 35 times, including his own record 14 times. Here are some very interesting facts about the Ukrainian pole vaulter:
He was born Serhii Nazarovych Bubka, on December 04, 1963, in Voroshilovgrad (Luhansk), Ukraine.
He started as track & field athlete participating in 100m and long jump events. At the age of nine hetook to pole vault by accident when he saw his neighbor vaulting, although he was told to wait until the age of 12.
When his coach Vitaly Petrov, was transferred to Donetsk, aged 15 years he along with his older brother Vasiliy Bubka, followed suit in serious pursuit of pole vaulting.
He first appeared on the international scene at the ‘European Junior Championship’ in 1981 and finished seventh.
He was the first athlete to use the Petrov/Bubka technique in which the pole is held higher than most vaulters.
Bubka made his debut at the senior meet, when he won the WorldChampionship at Helsinki, Finland, in 1983. He surprised the world as an unknown athlete winning the gold medal clearing 5.70 meters.
He enhanced his reputation further on May 26, 1984, when he set the world record with 5.85 meters. A month later he cleared 5.90 meters, to break his own record.
Bubka was representing USSR until 1991, where the Soviet sports system rewarded athlete for setting world records and he became noted for establishing new record by slimmest of margin to collect frequent bonus.
After the disintegration of USSR, Bubka signed a contract with ‘Nike’ which also rewarded him $ 40,000 for every world records performance.
He reached 6.00 meters long considered unattainable for the first time on July 13, 1985, in Paris.
Bubka increased the world record by 21 centimeters in a span of four years from 1984 to 1988. He cleared the height of 6.00m, more than 44 times.
After he missed the bus to 1984 Olympics, due to USSR boycott, he competed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and won his only Olympic Gold Medal clearing 5.90 meters. He was named the best sportsman of the Soviet Union for three years in a row from 1984 to1986.
Bubka married gymnast Lilia Tutunik in 1984, and they have two sons. His younger son also named Sergey is a professional tennis player.
Bubka was the first athlete to clear the magical height of 6.10 meters1991, in San Sebastian, Spain.
Bubka seemed cursed at the Olympics as he failed to clear all his first three attempts at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and was out of the competition. At Atlanta Olympics he withdrew from the competition without any attempt due to a heel injury.
Although he had indifferent form at the Olympics, Bubka dominated the ‘IAFF World Championship between 1983 and 1997. He won six consecutive championship scaling different heights.
In 2000 at the Sydney Olympics, he was eliminated from the final after he failed to clear 5.70 meter in all his three attempts.
He set his personal and the then world record of 6.14 meters in 1994. The magnitude of this world record can be gauged from the fact that no other athlete has cleared more than 6.07 meter either indoor or outdoor till January 2014.
In 1996, he was elected as a ‘Member of the Athletes Commission, by the ‘International Olympic Committee,’ providing input into the governance of sport from the perspective of an active athlete.
Bubka officially retired from pole vaulting in 2001, in a ceremony at the annual pole vaulting completion in Donetsk called ‘Pole Vault Star.’
Bubka broke the men’s pole vault world record 35 times during his career which includes 17 outdoor records and 18 indoor records. His record was broken only once during his career by Thierry Vigneron of France.
He has won numerous titles including the World Indoor titles, European title, European Indoor titles, the 1996 Goodwill Games and the 1985 and 1997 Grand Prix finals.
Bubka is a member of Monaco based international organization, the ‘Champions for Peace’ club under the patronage of H.S.H Prince Albert II. This group of 90 famous elite champions, wish to make sport a tool for dialogue and social cohesion.
On November 04, 2003, he was designated as UNESCOs champion for sports by its Director-General, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, in a ceremony held at the headquarters.
Since 2005, as the Ukraine National Olympic Committee President, he has transformed the organization into one of the most progressive in the world.
He is an active member of the ‘International Association of Athletic Federation and was elected its Vice-President in 2007.
He lives a high profile life in an apartment worth $2 million in Monte Carlo and drives $120,000 Ferrari. He travels with a bodyguard since 1990s after he received death threat from Russian mafia.
On July 25, 2015, Bubka, unveiled ‘Flying Bubka,’ a new biography aimed at young people. The book is a life story of a common boy who grew up challenging social environment to become an outstanding athlete.
Bubkaon May 28, 2013, announced his intention of contesting for the post of I.O.C President. At the 125th IOC Session held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he lost to Thomas Bach of Germany very badly garnering only 8 and 4 votes in the two round of election held on September 10, 2013.
In 2008, he was awarded the ‘Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award’ in recognition of his work. He was also involved with ‘World Health Organization’ as its Ambassador to promote fight against tuberculosis and supported child victims of Chernobyl nuclear disaster.