Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Physicist Says Women Could Vault To New Records At Olympics

Date:
August 22, 2000
Source:
American Institute of Physics -- Inside Science News Service
Summary:
As a new event at the upcoming Olympics, women's pole vaulting will be in the spotlight. Now, a physicist at the University of Texas is predicting big improvements in the women's pole vaulting records in the near future.

AUSTIN, TX (August 17, 2000) - Just as women's pole vaulting makes its debut at the upcoming Olympic 2000 games in Sydney, Australia, a physicist from the University of Texas says women are poised to make even bigger leaps in the record books.

Related Articles


Cliff Frohlich, who has written articles on sports physics in the American Journal of Physics and the book The Physics of Sports, points out that while the men's pole vaulting record has stood for more than 6 years, we've yet to see the heights to which women will vault.

By using a vaulter's sprint speed to determine the potential vertical height, Frohlich says he expects the women's record to top 17.5 feet soon. That's more than two feet higher than where the current record sits.

The women's current world record holder, Stacy Dragila, an assistant track and field coach at Idaho State University, just set her latest record of 4.63 meters, or 15 feet 2.25 inches in July at the Olympic trials in Sacramento, California. The world record in men's pole vaulting is held by the Ukraine's Sergey Bubka, who cleared 6.14 meters or 20 feet 1.75 inches in a 1994 competition.

Dragila's coach, Dave Nielsen, agrees with Frohlich that women probably have room for significant gains, but he isn't sure about the 17.5 foot figure. Still, he thinks 16.5 feet is a good bet, and he says women will eventually break the 17 foot mark. "Women have different challenges than men in pole-vaulting, such as different upper body strength and a lower average height," Nielsen says. Nevertheless, he adds, "I don't doubt that women will eventually jump over 17 feet."

With current women's records at just over 15 feet, Frohlich says that "the women's record is likely to improve quite a bit" as women who can run faster and use the pole more effectively enter the field. The reason this is possible is that vaulting is an example of conservation of energy: The kinetic energy, or energy of motion, of the runner's approach speed is converted, through the pole vault, into the potential energy of the jump height. The faster a vaulter sprints toward the vault bar, the more energy is available for the vault. Nielsen says in addition to the approach velocity, other factors must be considered, such as how effectively the vaulter's horizontal running velocity is converted into vertical velocity, since this determines the amount of momentum that will carry the vaulter up and over the bar. This occurs through the "angle in" and "angle out" that the vaulter's body makes with the ground at the start of the vault. Upper body strength and the height of the vaulter's center of mass also play very important roles, since both are intimately tied up with the amount of mechanical work that must be done. The taller a person, the higher is their center of mass. Likewise, the distribution of mass affects center of mass. In general, men have a higher center of mass than women do.

In his recent presentation before the 2000 Olympic Trials U.S.A. Track & Field Super Clinic, Nielsen stated that everything else being equal, "the taller vaulter will likely be able to hold [the pole] higher and will be higher in the air at take off."

As for upper body strength, Nielsen says, "Females are similar to males in leg strength, but have noticeably less upper body strength." He thinks this might be a liability during vaulting, which requires the execution of a series of maneuvers that amount to a somersault while holding the pole.

Louis Bloomfield, another physicist who teaches the popular "How Things Work" course at the Unviersity of Virginia agrees with Frohlich's expectations that women will likely make some big height gains in the near future. "He's probably correct," says Bloomfield. "His observations that women can do better than 15 feet, and will probably do so fairly soon, is probably correct, too."

Nielsen says that, an increase in women's sprint speeds, as well as improvements in other vaulting factors, will "likely result in vaults exceeding 5 meters (nearly 16.5 feet)." ###

For More Information:

Rory McGee
Inside Science News Service
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3088
[email protected]

Experts:
Dr. Cliff Frohlich
Institute of Geophysics
University of Texas
Austin, TX
Office phone: 512-232-3260
E-mail: [email protected]
and [email protected]

Dave Nielsen
Pole Vault Coordinator,
Women's Development and Head Track & Field Coach
Idaho State University
Office phone: 208-282-3299
E-mail: [email protected]


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics -- Inside Science News Service. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics -- Inside Science News Service. "Physicist Says Women Could Vault To New Records At Olympics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000817121853.htm>.
American Institute of Physics -- Inside Science News Service. (2000, August 22). Physicist Says Women Could Vault To New Records At Olympics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000817121853.htm
American Institute of Physics -- Inside Science News Service. "Physicist Says Women Could Vault To New Records At Olympics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000817121853.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins