In the Pole Vault, athletes take a run up and use a pole to propel themselves over the bar. The pole can be any length or diameter, but must be smooth. Athletes plant the end of the pole into a box at the base of the landing area, and use their speed, momentum and the bend of the pole to get themselves over. The bar must stay on its supports.
Athletes may begin jumping at any height or may pass, at their own discretion. If they fail three consecutive jumps, at any height or combination of heights, they are eliminated. Once each height has been completed or passed, the bar is raised, and the next set of jumps begins.
Athletes start with a qualifying round. Jumping in turn, each athlete attempts to achieve the qualifying height. If they fail at three jumps in a row, they are eliminated. After a successful jump, they receive three more attempts to achieve the next height. Once all jumps have been completed, all athletes who have achieved the qualifying height go through to the final. If fewer than 12 athletes achieve the qualifying standard, the best 12 athletes go through.
In the final, as in qualifying, athletes are eliminated if they fail at three attempts in a row. The athlete who completes the highest jump is the winner.
At the end of the competition, any ties are broken in favour of the athlete with fewest failures at the final height. If still tied, the athlete with the fewest total failures wins, and if still tied after that the tie stands, other than for first place, which is normally resolved by a jump-off.
Keys to success
To achieve the maximum possible height, every aspect of the jump must be perfect, including the run-up. Athletes take great care in working out the exact position they start from, ensuring it suits their stride pattern and provides them with the best possible take-off.
Breaking the rules
The brush of a trailing leg or foot can dislodge the bar and ruin an otherwise perfect jump.