Christos Papanikolaou

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Christos Papanikolaou
Christos Papanikolaou 1966.jpg
Personal information
Born (1941-11-25) 25 November 1941 (age 74)
Trikala, Greece
Height 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight 72 kg (159 lb)
Country  Greece
Sport Athletics
Event(s) Pole vault
Club GS Trikalon
Achievements and titles
Highest world ranking 1st
Personal best(s) 5.49 m (1970)

Christos Papanikolaou (Greek: Χρήστος Παπανικολάου, born 25 November 1941) is a retired Greek pole vaulter. On October 25, 1970, he set the world record at 5.49 m (18 ft 0 in), significant to Americans as the first man to pole vault 18 feet. He competed at the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics and finished in 18th, 4th and 11th place, respectively.[1] He won a silver medal at the 1966 European Championships. He was a two time champion at the Mediterranean Games.


At a young age Papanikolaou joined the Sports Club of Trikala. After completing his high school he enrolled to the Sports Academy of Athens. While in Athens, he joined Panathinaikos.

His greatest ever championship achievements only came when he won the silver medal at the 1966 European Championships and finished fourth at the 1968 Summer Olympics.[1]

Papanikolaou trained in the United States at San Jose State College and was part of their 1969 NCAA Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship team coached by Lloyd (Bud) Winter.[2] At the 1970 Universiade in Turin, Papanikolaou finished second behind Wolfgang Nordwig, who won the event with a new world record of 5.46 metres. On 24 October the same year Papanikolaou jumped 5.49 metres in Athens to set a new world record.[3][4] The vault was featured on the November 1970 cover of Track and Field News.[5] The record was later beaten by Swede Kjell Isaksson on 8 April 1972.[6]

Papanikolaou was ranked by Track and Field News among the top ten pole vaulters a total of seven times between 1966 and 1972, more than any other Greek athlete. His highest position was second in 1970.[7]


Year Competition Venue Position Notes
1966 European Championships Budapest, Hungary 2nd 5.05
1967 Mediterranean Games Tunis, Tunisia 1st 5.15 CR
1968 Olympic Games Mexico City, Mexico 4th 5.35
1970 Universiade Turin, Italy 2nd 5.42
1971 Mediterranean Games İzmir, Turkey 1st 5.20 CR
1972 Olympic Games Munich, West Germany 11th 5.00


  1. ^ a b Khristos Papanikolaou.
  2. ^ Smith shrugs off muscle pull to win Olympics 200-meter. Rome News – Tribune. 17 October 1968.
  3. ^ Verschoth, Anita (1 February 1971) Wait-listed For The Pantheon. Sports Illustrated
  4. ^ SPORTS BETTING – Online Sports Betting, Casino, Poker & Horse Racing. Retrieved on 13 July 2015.
  5. ^ Past Covers 1968. Retrieved on 13 July 2015.
  6. ^ Men's World Record Pole Vault Progression.
  7. ^ All Greeks in "Track and Field News" Magazine World Rankings 1947 – 2003.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
East Germany Wolfgang Nordwig
Men's Pole Vault World Record Holder
24 October 1970 – 8 April 1972
Succeeded by
Sweden Kjell Isaksson