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Technique and practice – Bubka’s mantras for success

The Ukrainian pole-vault legend, who broke the world record 35 times, is keenly following the new generation.
Technique And Practice – Bubkas Mantras For Success
Sergey Bubka is in Doha to attend the IAAF World Championships. IQ Photo

If breaking athletics records were a discipline in itself, Sergey Bubka would undoubtedly be the world champion in it. The 55-year-old, who has bettered the pole-vault world record an incredible 35 times in his career (17 times outdoors and 18 indoors), is in Doha for the IAAF World Championships.

After getting re-elected as the IAAF vice-president, at its Congress on the eve of the championships, Bubka’s focus is on the competition now. Years after his retirement from competitions, the heights the Ukrainian used to visit so frequently remain almost out of bounds for today’s champions.
What did the Ukrainian do differently to become such a force? The man who crossed six metres on 45 occasions smiled benignly before putting it down to two things – technique and practice.

“The 6M is always a barrier that prevents athletes from taking their jumps to the next level. At the end of the day, all great performances boil down to technique and practice. The right technique, perfected over years of practice, gives people a chance to jump 6.15M or even higher,” he told Inside Qatar.

“As to why today’s jumpers struggle to breach the 6M mark, it’s a question for their coaches. Their principles may be sound, but the execution is harder. There lies the problem. My advice to jumpers is to look deeper into their techniques. It’s at the heart of good jumps,” he added.

Bubka enjoyed Sunday’s riveting battle in the women’s final, won by Anzhelika Sidorova (Authorised Neutral Athletes) with a leap of 4.95M, defeating USA’s Sandi Morris (4.90) and Greece’s Katerina Stefanidi (4.85).

“I enjoyed the fight between them. Considering it was September, and the end of a very long season, they were just fantastic. I was impressed by the consistency in their jumps and the fighting spirit,” he said.

The men’s pole vault final on Tuesday missed the presence of current world record holder Renaud Lavillenie, who failed to get past the first round. Bubka said the Frenchman was not in great shape coming to Doha.

“Lavillenie struggled a bit this season and wasn’t in great shape. It affected his performances. But now, a new generation of jumpers have emerged, and I’m keen to see how they do in future,” he told Inside Qatar.

Bubka’s highest outdoor jump was a 6.14M leap, and indoors, it was 6.15M. When Lavillenie cleared 6.16M in February 2014 at the annual Pole Vault Stars meeting in Bubka’s hometown of Donetsk, it became the new official world record as the IAAF had stopped differentiating between indoor and outdoor marks after the year 2000.

While it may seem unfair, given the differences in competition and conditions, Bubka has come to terms with it.

“Yes, I agree it’s a lot easier to jump indoors because there’s no wind to fight against and the temperatures are always consistent. But the IAAF’s decision was taken after lots of deliberation. I’m alright with it now,” he said.

But he said it was not written in stone.

“It’s not impossible to revisit the decision. Different national federations will have to put a proposal forward to the IAAF, and then, we can always reopen conversations around it,” he said.