As Olympic pole vault champion and world record holder Mondo Duplantis jack-knifed over the bar at 5.75m with room to spare during today’s Diamond League meet in Brussels, American TV announcer Paul Swangard said, “you often wish they would just measure the height he could have cleared.”
And I thought, well, why the hell don’t they?
From the poles they use, to the runway surface they run down, modern athletes have always utilized the newest technology. We have seen that progression as we’ve gone from dirt tracks to cinders to tartan to Mondo. And then of course there are the new super shoes.
But we also have modern timing and measuring devices that never existed in previous eras, too. In light of the widely applauded – yet still somewhat controversial – Olympic men’s high jump final in Tokyo where two men tied for the gold medal by clearing all heights through 2.37m, but then failed all three attempts at 2.39m, here’s a suggestion and an agreement with Paul Swangard.
We already have the capability in both the pole vault and the high jump to actually measure the greatest height reached by the athlete via laser technology.
The highest high jump in history may well not have been Javier Sotomayor’s 2.45m (8.03 ft.) from 1993. It could well have been a lesser bar height with a larger clearance. Same with the pole vault.
Not only would such measurements make for more interesting coverage, officials could utilize the technology as a tie-breaking mechanism if bar height clearance and count-back on misses didn’t create the divide like in Tokyo’s Olympic high jump.
Not to suggest this measurement be used as the primary criterion for determining competition places. Rather, utilize technology that does exist to illuminate the actual height attained while adding entertainment value for spectators and a method to ascertain places in case the current tie-breaking mechanisms fail to decide the issue. As always, just asking or, in this case, agreeing.