SERGEI BUBKA : KEY TO THE VAULT

SERGEI BUBKA IS A MAN OF THE WORLD--AND OF THE WORLD RECORD

At the inaugural track-and-field meet for Atlanta's Olympic stadium in May, two officials watch a Ukrainian pole vaulter prepare for his first jump. The vaulter has been rooted in hypnotic concentration for almost two minutes when, without warning, he explodes down the runway. His legs blur into the scorching stride of a 100-m sprinter, but his upper body is like no sprinter's on earth. It looks more like a bag of rocks lashed together with steel cable. He hauls all this bulk to the end of the runway, then plants 17 ft. of fiber glass into the ground and proceeds to...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!