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 ft 6 12 in (4.43 m) at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU)'s national championship meet, setting a new world record. However, the Olympic Trials were held separately the following week; at the Trials, Varoff only placed fourth and failed to qualify for the United States team for the 1936 Olympics.[4] Varoff won the AAU championship again in 1939; he set his personal best, 14 ft 7 58 in (4.46 m), at the 1937 AAU meet, but lost on countback as three other men also cleared the same height.[5][6] With the cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Olympics due to World War II, he 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.[7] He later reported that he and his crew had to bail out over China following a bombing mission.[8]


Following the war, Varoff returned to San Francisco. He was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.[9] 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. ^ Hymans, Richard (2008). "The History of the United States Olympic Trials – Track & Field" (PDF). USA Track & Field. Retrieved 2015-10-20. 
  5. ^ "George Varoff". Track and Field Statistics. Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  6. ^ Mallon, Bill; Buchanan, Ian; Track & Field News. "A History Of The Results Of The National Track & Field Championships Of The USA From 1876 Through 2015". Track & Field News. Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  7. ^ "Capt. George Varoff safe". New York Times. January 17, 1945. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  8. ^ "Card Farm Pitcher Cited". New York Times. April 6, 1945. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  9. ^ "Inductees: Track and Field". Oregon Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2007-10-10. [dead link]