George Varoff

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George Dimitri Varoff (March 25, 1914 – January 10, 2002) was an American pole vaulter.

Early life[edit]

Varoff was born in Hawaii to Ukrainian immigrants and grew up in San Francisco, where he competed for Balboa High School.[1][2] After high school, he attended the University of Oregon to train under track coach Bill Hayward.[3]

World record[edit]

On July 4, 1936, Varoff vaulted 14 feet 6.5 inches (4.43 m) to set a new world record. However, his record came a week before the Olympic trials, and in the trials, he failed to qualify for the United States team for the 1936 Olympics. Varoff went on to win Amateur Athletic Union pole vaulting titles in 1936, 1937, and 1939,[4] but with the cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Olympics due to World War II, never competed in the Olympics.

World War II[edit]

Varoff joined the United States Army Air Forces during World War II and achieved the rank of Captain. His B-29 was shot down over China and reported as missing in action on December 7, 1944. He returned safely to his base six weeks later.[5] He later reported that he and his crew had to bail out over China following a bombing mission.[6]


Following the war, Varoff returned to San Francisco. He was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.[7] He died in San Antonio, Texas on January 10, 2002.[3]


  1. ^ "Records at Princeton". Time Magazine. July 13, 1936. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  2. ^ "San Francisco (AAA) Finals - 1915 thru 2002". Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  3. ^ a b "Ex-pole vaulter Varoff dead at 87". Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  4. ^ "Leadership and Legacy: Early Era Stars". University of Oregon. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  5. ^ "Capt. George Varoff safe". New York Times. January 17, 1945. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  6. ^ "Card Farm Pitcher Cited". New York Times. April 6, 1945. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  7. ^ "Inductees: Track and Field". Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2007-10-10. [dead link]