Stabhochsprung | Word of the Week | DW | 31.07.2012
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Word of the Week

Stabhochsprung

How high can you jump?

With the London 2012 Olympic Games in full-swing, a bit of German sports lingo may just come in handy. Stabhochsprung is a compound of the words Stab, hoch, Sprung - literally pole, high, jump. It's the German term for the track and field sport of pole-vaulting. Funnily enough, the pole itself is called a Stabhochsprungstab in German - pole, high, jump, pole.

While the precise origins of the sport remain unknown, depictions exist of Egyptian warriors pole-vaulting over enemy walls dating back to 2,500 BC. Poles were also used to jump streams and ditches. The first known competitive pole-vaulting was held as part of the Irish Taliteann Games founded in honor of the goddess Tailtiu dating back to around 1,500 BC. The modern sport of pole-vaulting became an official Olympic event in 1896, but women's pole vault was not added to the Games until 2000.

During the 19th century, poles were made from wood and then later bamboo up until World War II. Fibreglass poles became popular in the 1950s and today's high-tech poles are generally made from carbon fiber and fiberglass composite materials. Advances in pole technology have been primarily responsible for the ever-greater heights achieved by pole-vaulters. Ukraine's Sergey Bubka was the first pole-vaulter to clear the six-meter mark in 1985. A pole-vaulting legend, Bubka still holds the World Record with his jump of 6.14 meters in 1994. This year, a new batch of determined pole-vaulters from around the world will be going for gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Women's Pole Vault Final will be held on August 6 at the Olympic Stadium, followed by the Men's Pole Vault Final on August 10. Now just remember, pole, high, jump!

Author: Helen Whittle
Editor: Kate Bowen

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