How high? How long?

‘Please tell me there’ll be a video,’ one of my work colleagues said when I told her I planned to do the high jump and pole vault.

Trace was convinced I’d manage it – until I tried to hop down the hallway and quickly came to a halt.

This was never going to go well.

High jump

My nephew is good at the high jump. But he’s a teenage surfie who lives in Australia so was never going to come through with any tips for his aunt.

Having established my shortcomings in jumping forward for the long jump, I was hesitant about jumping, backwards, over a pole.

‘What about doing it the old way?’ Trace said. ‘A scissor jump?’

I had a dim memory of Fi doing just that when we’d been at school. It seemed a possibility. But I still needed something to jump over. This is what I found.

Women’s high jump was one of five events on the first women’s athletics programme in 1928, men had been competing in the high jump since 1896. High jump was the only jumping event open to women until the 1948 Games in London, when women were allowed to compete in the long jump.

The women’s Olympic high jump record was set by Russia’s Yelena Slesarenko in 2004 with a jump of 2.06m.

Long jump

The long jump dates back to the Ancient Olympic Games. Women have been competing in the long jump since 1948 while men have been competing since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

I love watching it and, after reading about the techniques involved, had every confidence I’d land in the sandpit but little confidence about the distance I might travel.

American Jackie Joyner-Kersee holds the women’s Olympic record, after jumping 7.40m in 1988.

Her record is safe. Here’s what happened when I tried the long jump at Ladywell Arena Athletics Track.

Pole vault

American Stacy Dragila became the first Olympic pole vault champion at the Sydney Games in 2000, when women competed for the first time. Men had been vaulting poles since the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

Yelena Isinbayeva, from Russia, holds the Olympic pole vault record, 5.05m set in 2008.

Pole vaulters use a long, flexible pole (usually made or fibreglass or carbon fibre) to help them lift up and over a bar. Even at a basic level, pole vaulters need a fair bit of specialised equipment.

I had no specialised equipment, was nervous about losing contact with the ground, and snapping the pole. But. I make curtains and use long, cardboard tubes to roll fabric. I found a tube in the cupboard and made my way to Mountsfield Park.


Athletics – jumping. 16 and 19 August 2016

Ladywell Arena Athletics Track and Mountsfield Park

Cost: Free