Sergey Bubka

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Sergey Bubka
Bubka in 2013
Personal information
Native nameСергій Назарович Бубка
Full nameSergey Nazarovych Bubka
Born (1963-12-04) 4 December 1963 (age 59)
Luhansk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
EducationPhD in pedagogy, physical culture
Alma materUkrainian Academy of Pedagogical Science, Kyiv State Institute of Physical Culture
Years active1981–2001
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight80 kg (176 lb)
Chair of the NOC of Ukraine
Assumed office
23 June 2005[1]
Preceded byViktor Yanukovych
Country Soviet Union (1981–1991)
 Ukraine (1991–2001)
SportTrack and field
Event(s)Pole vault
Turned pro1981
Coached byVitaly Petrov (first coach)
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing the  Soviet Union
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1988 Seoul Pole vault
World Championships
Representing the  Soviet Union
Gold medal – first place 1983 Helsinki Pole vault
Gold medal – first place 1987 Rome Pole vault
Gold medal – first place 1991 Tokyo Pole vault
Representing  Ukraine
Gold medal – first place 1993 Stuttgart Pole vault
Gold medal – first place 1995 Gothenburg Pole vault
Gold medal – first place 1997 Athens Pole vault
World Indoor Championships
Representing the  Soviet Union
Gold medal – first place 1985 Paris Pole vault
Gold medal – first place 1987 Indianapolis Pole vault
Gold medal – first place 1991 Sevilla Pole vault
Representing  Ukraine
Gold medal – first place 1995 Barcelona Pole vault
European Championships
Representing the  Soviet Union
Gold medal – first place 1986 Stuttgart Pole vault
European Indoor Championships
Representing the  Soviet Union
Gold medal – first place 1985 Athens Pole vault
Goodwill Games
Representing the  Soviet Union
Gold medal – first place 1986 Moscow Pole vault
Updated on 8 September 2012.

Sergey Nazarovych Bubka (Ukrainian: Сергій Назарович Бубка; Serhiy Nazarovych Bubka; born 4 December 1963) is a Ukrainian former pole vaulter. He represented the Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991. Bubka was twice named Athlete of the Year by Track & Field News,[2] and in 2012 was one of 24 athletes inducted as inaugural members of the International Association of Athletics Federations Hall of Fame.[3]

Bubka won six consecutive IAAF World Championships, an Olympic gold medal and broke the world record for men's pole vault 35 times.[4] He was the first pole vaulter to clear 6.0 metres and 6.10 metres.[5][6]

He held the indoor world record of 6.15 metres, set on 21 February 1993 in Donetsk, Ukraine[7] for almost 21 years until France's Renaud Lavillenie cleared 6.16 metres on 15 February 2014 at the same meet in the same arena.[8] He held the outdoor world record at 6.14 metres between 31 July 1994,[9] and 17 September 2020 when Sweden's Armand Duplantis cleared 6.15 metres, though since adopting rule 260.18a in 2000 the IAAF regards the indoor record as the official "world record".[10]

Bubka is Senior Vice President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), serving since 2007, and President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine, serving since 2005. He is also an Honorary Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), having been involved since 1996. His older brother, Vasiliy Bubka, was also a medal-winning pole vaulter.


Born in Luhansk, Sergey Nazarovych Bubka was a track-and-field athlete in the 100-meter dash and the long jump, but became a world-class champion only when he turned to the pole vault. In 1983, virtually unknown internationally, he won the world championship in Helsinki, Finland, and the following year set his first world record, clearing 5.85m (19 ft 2 in). Until the dissolution of the USSR in late 1991, Bubka competed for Soviet teams. The Soviet sports system rewarded athletes for setting new world records, and he became noted for establishing new records by slim amounts, sometimes as little as a centimeter higher. This allowed him to collect frequent bonus payments and made Bubka an attraction at track-and-field meets. By 1992, he was no longer bound to the Soviet system, and signed a contract with Nike[11] that rewarded each world record performance with special bonuses of $40,000.[12]

He has a son who was a professional tennis player, whose name is Sergei.

From 2002 to 2006 Bubka was a member of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada with the Party of Regions group and until 2014 an advisor to Viktor Yanukovych.[13] He was on the youth policy, physical culture, sport and tourism committee while a MVR.[14]

On 5 March 2022 Bubka professed his love for his homeland after the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, and declared: "Ukraine will win".[15]


  • Sergey Bubka (1987). An Attempt Is Reserved (in Russian). Moscow: Molodaya gvardiya.

Sporting curriculum vitae[edit]

Pole vault career[edit]

Sergey Bubka started competing on the international athletics scene in 1981 when he participated in the European Junior Championship finishing seventh. But the 1983 World Championship held in Helsinki was his actual entry point to the world athletics, where a relatively unknown Bubka snatched the gold, clearing 5.70 metres (18 feet 8 inches). The years that followed witnessed the unparalleled dominance of Bubka, with him setting new records and standards in pole vaulting.

He set his first world record of 5.85m on 26 May 1984 which he improved to 5.88m a week later, and then to 5.90m a month later. He cleared 6.00 metres (19 feet 8 inches) for the first time on 13 July 1985 in Paris.[6] This height had long been considered unattainable. With virtually no challengers, Bubka improved his own record over the next 10 years until he reached his career best and the then world record of 6.14 m (20 feet 134 inches) in 1994. He primarily vaulted on UCS Spirit poles throughout his later career.[16][17]

He became the first athlete ever to jump over 6.10 metres, in San Sebastián, Spain in 1991. Until January 2014, no other athlete on earth had cleared 6.07, indoors or outdoors. In 1994, he achieved his personal record with a vault of 6.14 meters, long after many commentators assumed the great sportsman was retired. Bubka increased the world record by 21 centimetres (8 inches) in the period from 1984 to 1994, more than other pole vaulters had achieved in the previous 12 years. He cleared 6.00 meters or better on 45 occasions.[18] As of June 2015, 6 meters had been cleared by all athletes worldwide exactly 100 times.[19]

Bubka officially retired from pole vault in 2001 during a ceremony at his Pole Vault Stars meeting in Donetsk.[20]

Olympics curse[edit]

Despite his dominance in pole vault, Bubka had a relatively poor record in the Olympic Games. The first Olympics after Bubka's introduction to the international athletics was held in 1984 and was boycotted by the USSR along with the majority of other Eastern Bloc countries. Two months before the Games he vaulted 12 cm higher than the eventual Olympic gold medal winner Pierre Quinon. In 1988 Bubka competed in the Seoul Olympics and won his only Olympic gold medal clearing 5.90 m. In 1992 he failed to clear in his first three attempts (5.70, 5.70, 5.75 m) and was out of the Barcelona Olympics. At the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 a heel injury caused him to withdraw from the competition without any attempts. In 2000 at the Sydney Olympics he was eliminated from the final after three unsuccessful attempts at 5.70 m.[21]

IAAF World championships[edit]

Bubka won the pole vault event in six consecutive IAAF World Championships in Athletics in the period from 1983 to 1997:

Year Competition Venue Position Winning height
1983 World Championships Helsinki 1st 5.70 m (18 ft 8+716 in)
1987 World Championships Rome 1st 5.85 m (19 ft 2+516 in)
1991 World Championships Tokyo 1st 5.95 m (19 ft 6+14 in)
1993 World Championships Stuttgart 1st 6.00 m (19 ft 8+14 in)
1995 World Championships Gothenburg 1st 5.92 m (19 ft 5+116 in)
1997 World Championships Athens 1st 6.01 m (19 ft 8+58 in)

World record progression[edit]

Bubka broke the world record for men's pole vault 35 times during his career.[4] He broke the outdoor world record 17 times and the indoor world record 18 times. Bubka lost his outdoor world record only once in his illustrious career. After Thierry Vigneron, of France, broke his record on 31 August 1984 at the Golden Gala international track meet in Rome, Bubka subsequently reclaimed the record on his next attempt on the same runway, just minutes later.[22]

Height Date Place
6.14 m (20 ft 1+34 in) 31 July 1994 Sestriere
6.13 m (20 ft 1+516 in) 19 September 1992 Tokyo
6.12 m (20 ft 1516 in) 30 August 1992 Padua
6.11 m (20 ft 916 in) 13 June 1992 Dijon
6.10 m (20 ft 316 in) 5 August 1991 Malmö
6.09 m (19 ft 11+34 in) 8 July 1991 Formia
6.08 m (19 ft 11+38 in) 9 June 1991 Moscow
6.07 m (19 ft 11 in) 6 May 1991 Shizuoka
6.06 m (19 ft 10+916 in) 10 July 1988 Nice
6.05 m (19 ft 10+316 in) 9 June 1988 Bratislava
6.03 m (19 ft 9+38 in) 23 June 1987 Prague
6.01 m (19 ft 8+58 in) 8 June 1986 Moscow
6.00 m (19 ft 8+14 in) 13 June 1985 Paris
5.94 m (19 ft 5+78 in) 31 August 1984 Rome
5.90 m (19 ft 4+516 in) 13 July 1984 London
5.88 m (19 ft 3+12 in) 2 June 1984 Paris
5.85 m (19 ft 2+516 in) 26 May 1984 Bratislava
Height Date Place
6.15 m (20 ft 2+18 in) 21 February 1993 Donetsk
6.14 m (20 ft 1+34 in) 13 February 1993 Lievin
6.13 m (20 ft 1+516 in) 22 February 1992 Berlin
6.12 m (20 ft 1516 in) 23 March 1991 Grenoble
6.11 m (20 ft 916 in) 19 March 1991 Donetsk
6.10 m (20 ft 316 in) 15 March 1991 San Sebastián
6.08 m (19 ft 11+38 in) 9 February 1991 Volgograd
6.05 m (19 ft 10+316 in) 17 March 1990 Donetsk
6.03 m (19 ft 9+38 in) 11 February 1989 Osaka
5.97 m (19 ft 7+116 in) 17 March 1987 Turin
5.96 m (19 ft 6+58 in) 15 January 1987 Osaka
5.95 m (19 ft 6+14 in) 28 February 1986 New York City
5.94 m (19 ft 5+78 in) 21 February 1986 Inglewood
5.92 m (19 ft 5+116 in) 8 February 1986 Moscow
5.87 m (19 ft 3+18 in) 15 January 1986 Osaka
5.83 m (19 ft 1+12 in) 10 February 1984 Inglewood
5.82 m (19 ft 1+18 in) 1 February 1984 Milan
5.81 m (19 ft 34 in) 15 January 1984 Vilnius


Sergey Bubka statue, Donetsk

Bubka possessed great strength, speed and gymnastic abilities.[4] He gripped the pole higher than most vaulters to get extra leverage, though Bubka himself played down the effect of grip alone.[23]

His development and mastery of the Petrov/Bubka technical model is also considered a key to his success. (A technical model is a sequence of movements, positions and pressures which describe the method and style form of track and field events, including pole vaulting.)[24] The Petrov/Bubka model is considered superior to many others today, because it allows the vaulter to continuously put energy into the pole while rising towards the bar.[citation needed] Most conventional models focus on creating maximum bend in the pole before leaving the ground, by planting the pole heavily in the pole vault box. The Petrov/Bubka model follows the technique used by Kjell Isaksson,[25][26][27][28] which concentrates on driving the pole up, rather than bending it while planting it on the landing pad, combined with high running speed. While the traditional models depended on the recoil by bending the pole, the Petrov/Bubka model may exploit the recoil of the pole and exert more energy on the pole during the swinging action.[citation needed]

Awards and sporting positions held[edit]

Today Bubka is a member of the 'Champions for Peace' club, a group of more than 90 famous elite created by Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization placed under the High Patronage of H.S.H Prince Albert II. This group of top level champions, wish to make sport a tool for dialogue and social cohesion.


Bubka has been involved with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) since 2001 and has served as a vice president since 2007. During this time, he remained on the Athletes' Commission (2001–2011) and is also a Council Member for ASOIF, the Association for Summer Olympic International Federations. Bubka commented: "I have been working at the IAAF for a long time and my work is not limited to one area. The good of athletics is something deep in my heart." Bubka has been IAAF Council Member (2001-), IAAF senior vice-president (2007–2011), vice-president (2011-), IAAF Development Commission deputy chairman (2007–2011), then chairman (2011-), IAAF Athletes Commission member (2001–2011) and IAAF Competition Commission member (2003-). He was also a Coordination Commission chairman of IAAF World Championships in Daegu 2011 and Moscow 2013.

National Olympic Committee[edit]

As President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine since 2005, he has transformed the organisation into one of the most progressive in the world. It has staff based in all of the nation's 27 regions with each taking responsibility for delivering an array of programmes designed to bring youngsters into sport, realise the potential of the most able and promote the Olympic Movement and its values. A National Olympic Day, the Olympic Stork which provides Olympic-themed education to more than 250,000 school classes across the country, televised annual awards and an Olympic Academy have all been established under Bubka's reign. "NOCs must do more than select and send teams to Olympic Games", says Bubka. "They are at the forefront of efforts to educate young people and help them become involved in sport and adopt a healthy lifestyle. To do that we need to work together globally because if we don't we risk losing the younger generation."

International Olympic Committee (IOC)[edit]

Sergey Bubka first got involved with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1996 when he was elected as a Member of the Athletes' Commission, providing input into the governance of sport from the perspective of an active athlete. Almost 20 years later he is still involved as an Honorary Member. "I knew that I wanted to be involved in running sport and, in particular to be involved in the Olympic Movement", he said. He became an IOC Member in 1999 and has been involved in a wide range of Commissions, including Chairman of the Evaluation and then the Coordination Commissions for the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010. On 28 May 2013 Sergey Bubka announced that he would run for President of the International Olympic Committee. At the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires he lost the vote to Thomas Bach.[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ten years ago Serhiy Bubka was placed in charge of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine". Unian. 22 June 2015. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Track and Field Athlete of the Year". Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Hall of Fame | Athletes". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c "Bubka says farewell". BBC News. 4 February 2001. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  5. ^ "Top Lists: Pole Vault". Retrieved 29 June 2009. (Indoor)
  6. ^ a b "Top Lists: Pole Vault". Retrieved 29 June 2009. (Outdoor)
  9. ^ "Pole Vault – men – senior – outdoor". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  10. ^ "World Records". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  11. ^ Sandomir, Richard (12 April 1992). "OLYMPICS; Top Athletes Are Being Wooed to Fill Some Big Shoes". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  12. ^ O'Connor, Ian (1 August 1996). "Sore Bubka cannot soar". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Discover Monaco > Celebrities > Sports Personalities > Sergey Bubka". Monaco Tribune. Retrieved 5 April 2023.
  14. ^ Fernando, Shemal (12 December 2021). "Sergey Bubka broke the world record 35 times". Sunday Observer. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  15. ^ Mackay, Duncan (5 March 2022). "Bubka insists "Ukraine will win" after declaring love for country". Inside the Games.
  16. ^ Price, David (4 August 2017). "Carson Valley has a new 'Spirit'". The Record-Courier. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  17. ^ "A Family Company". ucsspirit. UCS Spirit. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  18. ^ "The Legendary Sergey Bubka". 3 April 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2009.
  19. ^ "Men's pole vault". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  20. ^ "Greatest Pole Vaulter Bubka Retires at 37". Los Angeles Times. 5 February 2001. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  21. ^ "Sydney 2000 results". Archived from the original on 22 November 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  22. ^ "Bubka finishes". Associated Press. 1 September 1984. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  23. ^ "On the Road to Atlanta". The Ukrainian Weekly. 2 June 1996. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
  24. ^ Ebbetts, Russ (Winter 2020). "TECHNIQUE V. STYLE" (PDF). Track & Field News. Retrieved 9 September 2023. In reality a technical model can be a simple concept. Generally speaking, there is a "right way or wrong way" to do things. Where it gets fuzzy is with the varying schools of thought, gurus and programs that may champion technical nuances that identify "their brand" of shot putting, pole vaulting or whatever.
  25. ^ "Pole vault plant by Kjell Isaksson". YouTube. 17 February 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Kjell Isaksson - pole vault 5.54m - 15/4/1972 on Vimeo". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  27. ^ "On successive weekends, Vaulter Kjell Isaksson exceeded a - 04.24.72 - SI Vault". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  28. ^ "Looking for old footage/information on kjell isaksson(FOUND)". Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  29. ^ "International Association of Athletics Federations". 24 August 2011. Archived from the original on 14 September 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2011.
  30. ^ "IOC > Members > Sergey Bubka". Official Website of the Olympic Movement. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  31. ^ "Honorary and Goodwill Ambassadors". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 4 August 2020.
  32. ^ "Ukrainian athlete Serhiy Bubka designated UNESCO Champion for Sport". 4 November 2003. Retrieved 27 August 2007.
  33. ^ "Sergiy Bubka receives "Golden Torch 2005" international prize / News / NRCU". Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  34. ^ "Bubka Finishes Long Career of Many Records". The New York Times. 5 February 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2022.
  35. ^ "Fredericks succeeds Bubka as chairman of IOC's Athletes Commission_English_Xinhua". 5 August 2008. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  36. ^ "Sergei Bubka: Pole vault great wants to be IOC president". 28 May 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2014.

External links[edit]

Civic offices
Preceded by President of Ukrainian NOC
Succeeded by
Preceded by Men's Pole Vault World Record Holder
26 May – 31 August 1984
31 August 1984 – 15 February 2014
Succeeded by
Preceded by Men's Pole Vault Indoor World Record Holder
15 January – 4 March 1984
15–17 January 1986
8 February 1986
21 February 1986 – 22 January 1989
11 February 1989 – 15 February 2014
Succeeded by
Awards and achievements
Preceded by L'Équipe Champion of Champions
Succeeded by
Preceded by Gazzetta dello Sport
Sportsman of the Year

Succeeded by
Preceded by Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Year
Succeeded by
Preceded by United Press International
Athlete of the Year

Succeeded by
Preceded by Prince of Asturias Award for Sports
Succeeded by
Sporting positions
Preceded by Men's Pole Vault Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
Olympic Games
Preceded by
Flagbearer for  Ukraine
Atlanta 1996
Succeeded by