| Event type

Pole Vault, Men

Date24 July 1908
LocationWhite City Stadium, London
Participants15 from 7 countries

The world record was 12-9 (3.90), which had recently been set by Walter Dray (USA) on 13 June 1908. The Olympic record had been set by Charles Dvorak at St. Louis in 1904, with 11-6 (3.50). Neither Dvorak nor Dray competed, although Dray had finished in a four-way tie for first at the 1908 IC4A Meet on 30 May. Dray had tied with A. C. Gilbert, Frank Nelson, and Charles Campbell, and all four competed for Yale University’s track team. Dray withdrew because his mother was concerned that he might be injured if he competed. Gilbert had also won the Eastern Olympic Trial with Dray and Nelson tieing for second. Among other nations, the top vaulters were Sweden’s Bruno Söderström, 1907 AAA champion and silver medalist in 1906, and Canada’s Ed Archibald, who had cleared 12-5 (3.80) in Canada earlier in the season and three weeks before the Games had won the British title at 12-0 (3.66).

Five competitors broke the Olympic record, and two more equalled the former record. The Americans, Alfred “A. C.” Gilbert and Ed Cook shared first place at 12-2 (3.71) with Archibald and Söderström tieing with Charles Jacobs (USA) for third. The closing stages of the competition were considerably delayed as they coincided with the dramatic happenings at the finish of the marathon. Because of the time factor, the officials decided against holding jump-offs for first and third places and, in an unusual decision, two gold and three bronze medals were awarded.

For the last time in Olympic competition, the “climbing” technique was permitted although it remained legal in England until 1920. Among their numerous protests, the Americans argued about the fact that there was no pit or hole in which to plant the pole and also that there was no sandpit or bales of straw to break the competitors falls. This protest was understandable as the organizers were definitely behind the times in these matters as these facilities had been provided at the two previous Olympic Games.

Edward Cook was a fine all-around jumper and hurdler. He won the IC4A long jump in 1908 and 1909, the AAU pole vault in 1907 and tied for first in the AAU pole vault in 1911. Gilbert spread his athletic talents even farther, winning the 1905 Yale gymnastics championship and was intercollegiate wrestling champion in 1906. Gilbert earned an M.D. degree from Yale but never practiced medicine. He later made a fortune as president of the toy company that bore his name and manufactured Erector Sets, American Flyer electric trains, and other popular toys.

PosNrAthleteNOCQualifying RoundFinal Round
=1A. C. GilbertUSA3.66 (2)3.71 (1)Gold=OR
=1Ed CookUSA3.71 (1)3.66 (2)Gold=OR
=3Clare JacobsUSA3.50 (5)3.58 (=3)Bronze
=3Bruno SöderströmSWE3.58 (=3)3.58 (=3)Bronze
=3Ed ArchibaldCAN3.58 (=3)3.58 (=3)Bronze
=6Georgios BanikasGRE3.43 (=6)3.50 (=6)
=6Sam BellahUSA3.43 (=6)3.50 (=6)
8Kálmán SzathmáryHUN3.35 (8)3.35 (8)
9Stefanos KountouriotisGRE3.27 (9)
=10Robert PascarelFRA3.20 (=10)
=10Carl SilfverstrandSWE3.20 (=10)
=12Thomas JacksonUSA3.05 (=12)
=12Gaston KoëgerFRA3.05 (=12)
14Coen van VeenhuijsenNED2.89 (14)
15Bram EversNED2.82 (15)
DNSGyörgy PahyHUN
DNSVictor BloisFRA
DNSErling HanssonNOR
DNSA. PetrovskyRUS
DNSCharles CampbellUSA
DNSKálmán SzabóHUN
DNSCharles RobinFRA
DNSBarton HaggardUSA
DNSEmil KazarHUN
DNSGeorg KarthGER
DNSMaurice GabertFRA
DNSJean MousteyFRA
DNSHarry ParkerUSA
DNSRudolf KallmeyerGER
DNSPierre MousteyFRA
DNSWilhelm WeberGER
DNSLauri PihkalaFIN
DNSAlfred FlaxmanGBR
DNSHans LiescheGER
DNSRobert PasemannGER
DNSLudwig UettwillerGER
DNSDoug StupartRSA
DNSClaude AllenUSA
DNSWalter DrayUSA
DNSRoy MercerUSA
DNSFrank NelsonUSA
DNSOtto FrankeGER

Qualifying Round (24 July 1908 — 11:00)

The eight leading competitors from the qualifying round advanced to the final. The six scheduled qualifying sections were consolidated into three pools. Qualifying marks were carried through to the final.

1Ed CookUSA3.71QOR
2A. C. GilbertUSA3.66QOR
=3Bruno SöderströmSWE3.58QOR
=3Ed ArchibaldCAN3.58QOR
5Clare JacobsUSA3.50Q
=6Georgios BanikasGRE3.43Q
=6Sam BellahUSA3.43Q
8Kálmán SzathmáryHUN3.35Q
9Stefanos KountouriotisGRE3.27
=10Robert PascarelFRA3.20
=10Carl SilfverstrandSWE3.20
=12Thomas JacksonUSA3.05
=12Gaston KoëgerFRA3.05
14Coen van VeenhuijsenNED2.89
15Bram EversNED2.82

Qualifying Round, Group A (24 July 1908)

1Bruno SöderströmSWE3.58OR
2Clare JacobsUSA3.50
3Stefanos KountouriotisGRE3.27
4Bram EversNED2.82

Qualifying Round, Group B (24 July 1908)

1Ed CookUSA3.71OR
2A. C. GilbertUSA3.66OR
3Ed ArchibaldCAN3.58OR
4Georgios BanikasGRE3.43
5Robert PascarelFRA3.20

Qualifying Round, Group C (24 July 1908)

1Sam BellahUSA3.43
2Kálmán SzathmáryHUN3.35
3Carl SilfverstrandSWE3.20
=4Thomas JacksonUSA3.05
=4Gaston KoëgerFRA3.05
5Coen van VeenhuijsenNED2.89

Final Round (24 July 1908 — 17:30)

1A. C. GilbertUSA3.71=OR
2Ed CookUSA3.66
=3Clare JacobsUSA3.58
=3Bruno SöderströmSWE3.58
=3Ed ArchibaldCAN3.58
=6Georgios BanikasGRE3.50
=6Sam BellahUSA3.50
8Kálmán SzathmáryHUN3.35