Sport: High on a Swizzle Stick

Pole Vaulter Billy Olson passes 19ft. and keeps looking up

Billy Olson used to dream of flying, not over crossbars, over rooftops. "I imagined myself jumping off fences and just flying," he says, "running down the street, flapping my arms and . . . taking off." For those who have never traveled by catapult, this is the sensation of pole vaulting.

So, as it happens, is Olson, a droll and drawling Abilene Texan, who at the snap of a fiberglass tube this month hoisted himself 19 ft. ¼ in., becoming the first man to...

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