Jan Wins Bronze in 1972 Olympics on Kirk's Catapole 550+

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KirkB
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Jan Wins Bronze in 1972 Olympics on Kirk's Catapole 550+

Unread postby KirkB » Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:24 pm

In digging thru my pole vault files last week, I came across this one of Jan Johnson clearing 17-6½ (5.35) on my Catapole 550+ for the Bronze in the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

Image

In case you can't read the fine print, it says

"Jan Johnson was involved in the pole hassle. This isn't his familiar one. He still placed third. (Tony Duffy)"

Jan and I recently hooked up again thru our mutual friend Pat Licari. I had not communicated with him since Munich.

I had forgotton that I lent him my poles for the Finals, but the white strip of tape below the Catapole 550+ label clearly identifies this as my pole! That's how I always marked my pre-bends!

I remember talking to Jan a few days before the Qualifying Round. He had such an impressive mindset that day, I'll never forget it! I asked him how he felt and was he ready, and he said something to the effect that he'd never ever been so ready for a meet. He was positive that he would win a medal. There was no doubt in his mind, and I could detect no bravado in his voice. He said it matter-of-factly. I'm paraphrasing, but that was essentially his candid comment to me that day. The power of positive thinking is an EXTREMELY powerful concept that true champions are made of (or develop thru mental training). Jan had it, and IMHO he won the Bronze becuz of it. He jumped 6" below his PR in swirling winds. Other favorites succumbed to these adverse conditions.

Now I'm thinking of asking Jan if I can borrow his Bronze Medal for awhile! :)

2008-06-29 21:39 PST - editted Jan's exact Bronze Medal clearance (I was ½" off - I originally posted by memory.)

Kirk Bryde
Last edited by KirkB on Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Jan Wins Bronze in 1972 Olympics on Kirk's Catapole 550+

Unread postby Soar Like an Eagle » Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:32 pm

KirkB wrote:In digging thru my pole vault files last week, I came across this one of Jan Johnson clearing 17-6 (5.33) on my Catapole 550+ for the Bronze in the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

Image

In case you can't read the fine print, it says

"Jan Johnson was involved in the pole hassle. This isn't his familiar one. He still placed third. (Tony Duffy)"

Jan and I recently hooked up again thru our mutual friend Pat Licari. I had not communicated with him since Munich.

I had forgotton that I lent him my poles for the Finals, but the white strip of tape below the Catapole 550+ label clearly identifies this as my pole! That's how I always marked my pre-bends!

I remember talking to Jan a few days before the Qualifying Round. He had such an impressive mindset that day, I'll never forget it! I asked him how he felt and was he ready, and he said something to the effect that he'd never ever been so ready for a meet. He was positive that he would win a medal. There was no doubt in his mind, and I could detect no bravado in his voice. He said it matter-of-factly. I'm paraphrasing, but that was essentially his candid comment to me that day. The power of positive thinking is an EXTREMELY powerful concept that true champions are made of (or develop thru mental training). Jan had it, and IMHO he won the Bronze becuz of it. He jumped about 6.5" below his PR in swirling winds. Other favorites succumbed to these adverse conditions.

Now I'm thinking of asking Jan if I can borrow his Bronze Medal for awhile! :)

Kirk Bryde


Was that pole a green pole? I thought the 550+ were banned for the olympics. I thought the jumpers could only use the black cata poles and brown sky poles. Jan Johnson was incredible, he ran the 100 yard dash in 9.5.

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Unread postby Russ » Sun Jun 29, 2008 8:58 pm

Yea, there's something that doesn't add up with this photo. Soar Like an Eagle is right: the green Cata-Pole 550+ was not allowed at the Games in Munich. In addition, in the pv final in Munich, Jan wore a t-shirt style top, not a tank top. Perhaps Jan can help us here.

I've talked to Jan about his borrowing the poles. He told me that he used Bruce Jenner's poles in the prelims. If the photo isn't from the Munich Final, maybe it's from a meet later during that summer? I don't know. I'm only speculating. Again, maybe Jan can shed some light?
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Unread postby KirkB » Sun Jun 29, 2008 9:57 pm

All my Catapole 550+ poles were black.

I got this photo out of a soft-cover book that was published after the Olympics were over. I can't verify the source down to his exact jump any more than that.

All I can say is that I didn't lend him my poles in the Qualifying Round, nor in any of the lead-up meets prior to the Olympics (they weren't banned yet).

I had actually thought that Catapoles were banned too, but I read an article written by George Moore that said that there weren't any carbon fibres in his poles.

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Unread postby dj » Sun Jun 29, 2008 11:53 pm

good morning

i don't believe carbon was the reason for the ban... george and herb used a "different" wrap or sail.. or maybe it was the first "spirl" wrap.. and made them green.. both George and A. Paulöun said they were banned because they were not registered within the time frame prior to the games.. george felt that the "Brand" was already registered and that should have covered the "new" pole, but paulöun said his europian boys didn't have time to have access to the pole so it wasn't "fair" for the americans to use them..

jeff bennett and/or jan said one of jeff's poles was used at one point during the final.. but jeff didn't mark his poles for prebend..

dj

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Unread postby KirkB » Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:33 pm

Russ wrote:Yea, there's something that doesn't add up with this photo. Soar Like an Eagle is right: the green Cata-Pole 550+ was not allowed at the Games in Munich. In addition, in the pv final in Munich, Jan wore a t-shirt style top, not a tank top. Perhaps Jan can help us here.


Russ, if you look on page 163 of "Illustrated History of the Pole Vault", you'll see Jan in the exact same USA uniform, on the exact same Catapole, with my exact same prebend marker below the label. He even has the exact same expression on his face!

The caption is slightly different than the one that I scanned. It says:

"Vaulters, IAAF Poles Apart at Munich - Jan Johnson rides a green CataPole 550+, banned from the Olympics. /Tony Duffy/"

As often happens with photographers that don't know beans about technical details, he got the color of the pole wrong. Unfortunately, it's a black & white photo, so you can't tell black from green.

But I know that the pole was black for 2 reasons. (1) It's my pole, and it wasn't green. (2) If it was a banned green Catapole, then Jan wouldn't have been allowed to use it on that day.

If you still suspect that "something doesn't add up with this photo", then you'll have to talk to the authors of the book "Illustrated History of the Pole Vault". You may not even have to make a long distance call! :)

This book is highly recommended for all pole vault aficionados!!!

Kirk
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Unread postby KirkB » Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:39 pm

Jan and Chelsea have a big day today in Eugene.

Good luck Jan and Chelsea!!!

Upon returning home, I'm hopeful that Jan can shed some light on this issue.

The last paragraph of page 162 of the book might even need to be amended. :)

Kirk
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Unread postby Russ » Mon Jul 07, 2008 4:46 pm

KirkB,

What's the name of that book again? :D

Pretty funny. Thanks.
Russ



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Unread postby Russ » Wed Jul 09, 2008 8:08 am

I've been thinking & I've got a couple of theories about what "doesn't add up" about the photo. It's pretty simple. I was not aware that Cata-Pole had made any 550+'s that were black. I had always assumed that they were all green. Of course, as I wrote in the book, in 1971 both Sky Pole and Cata-Pole began making poles with S-Glass instead of E-Glass. Cata-Pole's version was green and Sky Pole's version was dark blue. As I understand it, they simply decided to put a different color pigment into the fiberglass when they did it. When the German officials banned the green and blue poles at Munich, I suppose that they didn't subject any poles to a chemical or microscopic analysis; they just went by color I suppose.

So there are a couple of possibilities. 1) Kirk's black pole which had a 550+ label on it that Jan used in Munich could have just been a regular black Cata-Pole with a 550+ label on it (and the label could simply be a mistake). 2) Kirk's black pole which had a 550+ label on it that Jan used in Munich could have been an S-Glass pole with black pigment rather than green. If that's the case, then, as I said, I never suspected or knew that Cata-Pole ever made any S-Glass 550+'s that were black instead of green.

Still neither of these theories solves the riddle of the singlet - tank-top/t-shirt style. I've seen some film from the finals in which Jan is wearing a t-shirt style top. I'd love to see more video and photos from Munich to try to figure some of this out.
Russ



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Re:

Unread postby KirkB » Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:48 pm

Somebody must have replied to this thread today, then deleted it, as I got a notification in my email inbox about it, but I don't see any reply.

However, in reading Russ' last post again today, I see that I did not reply to him. We were kind of waiting for Jan to clarify this, but he was busy with Chelsea in the Olympic Trials around the date that Russ posted this.

Russ wrote: So there are a couple of possibilities.

1) Kirk's black pole which had a 550+ label on it that Jan used in Munich could have just been a regular black Cata-Pole with a 550+ label on it (and the label could simply be a mistake).

2) Kirk's black pole which had a 550+ label on it that Jan used in Munich could have been an S-Glass pole with black pigment rather than green. If that's the case, then, as I said, I never suspected or knew that Cata-Pole ever made any S-Glass 550+'s that were black instead of green.

Russ, I don't know for certain, but I believe that the answer to your quandry is (2).

If it was (1), then I'm sure George Moore would have told me about the mislabeling. I had a series of Catapoles 550+'s - not just one. It would be very odd if every one of them was mislabeled. Remember that these were "early models" that I got in May 1971.

It was 1971 when George gave me most of the poles, but he might have sent me my heaviest one in 1972. I can't explain why the heaviest one (that I got later) wasn't green. In fact, I really don't recall exactly when I got that one - it could have been June 1971 - I just don't remember.

Honestly, I didn't know the difference between E-Glass and S-Glass. All I knew was that these were the latest models that he had, and he wanted elite vaulters to test them for him. I'm sure he also wanted the free advertising that he would get if any pics made the news. For the pole of mine in the pic above, that certainly turned out to be the case, as that photo went world-wide in an Olympic highlights book!

There would have been absolutely no advantage to him giving me old poles - E-Glass poles as you call them. So if your classification of E-Glass and S-Glass poles is correct (and I assume it is), then they had to be S-Glass poles.

The other possibility that you didn't consider was whether my poles were black or green. You can't tell the difference in a B&W photo, but I assure you that all my poles were black. Also, if they were green, then they would not have allowed them in the Olympic Final.

This brings up an interesting situation ...

Jan was able to jump on my black S-Glass poles, yet other vaulters were not able to jump on the green S-Glass poles. So the PV officials differentiated which poles were legal and which were illegal purely on the basis of color!

This is an interesting revelation, as I've just come to this realization now ... 36 years later!

Jan won't have to return his medal tho. The issue was that the "Catapole" brand - with black poles - was available well in advance of the Olympics (1971), but the green ones weren't available to all athletes world-wide until 1972, so it was deemed that the Americans had an unfair advantage.

Funny, eh? A green pole made of S-Glass is an unfair advantage over a black pole made of S-Glass! Ha! ha! :D

As you said on page 162 of the book you co-authored with Jan - "Illustrated History of the Pole Vault" ...
Seagren, Johnson, Smith, and Isaksson, however, had to scramble to borrow poles and make last minute adjustements in order to compete. Under these extremely difficult circumstances, it is nearly a miracle that Seagren managed to vault 17-8 1/2 (5.40 m) to win the Silver Medal, and that Johnson won the Bronze Medal at 17-6 1/2 (5.35 m), using a short run and a pole borrowed from Decathlete, Bruce Jenner. Neither Kjell Isaksson nore Steve Smith was so lucky. Both the Swedish star and the American failed even to qualify for the finals, on brown Sky Poles.


Russ, as we discussed by email, we think that Jan used Bruce Jenner's poles in the Qualifying Round, and mine in the Finals. You'll have to update that page in your next edition! :)

Kirk

p.s. Jan, I'm still waiting for you to reply to my email, where I asked if I could borrow your Bronze Medal - since you borrowed my poles. :D

p.p.s. Russ, I found the original thread where you first started some research, and talked about writing the book! Here: http://www.polevaultpower.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=384&highlight=evolution
Last edited by KirkB on Sun Feb 15, 2009 3:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Re:

Unread postby rainbowgirl28 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 5:40 pm

KirkB wrote:Somebody must have replied to this thread today, then deleted it, as I got a notification in my email inbox about it, but I don't see any reply.


A spammer did. But it's a good thread to get bumped back up anyway :)

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Re: Jan Wins Bronze in 1972 Olympics on Kirk's Catapole 550+

Unread postby KirkB » Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:28 am

It's amazing how our memories come and go! Here's a post that I just found, dated Oct 7, 2004.

~jj~ wrote:Hi Kirk!
Thanks for loaning me your poles so's I could jump in the finals in '72....That was very good of you and I will never forget it!!!!!
Both Issakson and Smith jumped in the prelims, but they both had sore hamstrings and failed to advance on Brown Sky Poles.
I jumped on Bruce Jenners Black Catapole 7.7 in the prelims from 5 lefts to make 16'5 and advance. I had to run back to the village to borrow it before the prelims. It had to be checked and certified. I entered the field approximalty 20 min before the prelims started. I got off the ground once or twice and then missed once at each bar: 16' and 16'5.
I jumped in the finals on Kirk's 7.1and 7.0 from 7 lefts holding 14'8 to clear 17'6. A nice short run day!!!
Please note, most of the year I jumped on a 6.5, or 6.6 gripping 15'3 or 4, from 10 lefts.
The officals would not let us catch mid marks or take-off marks. We all had to sit at the end of the runway and we not allowed to come down past the 60' mark.
When it was over I was so happy to be done with it.
Then to top it all off the Black September terriosts hit the Olympic Village the next morning around 4am.
Jan Johnson
1972 Bronze medalist


I had a record of my pole flexes starting at 7.25, 7.0, 6.875, and on down (stiffer), which match roughly with Jan's recollection of using my 7.1 and 7.0. Those were my lightest poles, and I definitely got them from George Moore in May 1971, so they were deemed "legal". My heaviest pole (flex 6.25) is the only one that I'm unsure of when I got it.

I'm quite amazed about Jan qualifying with 5 lefts, then winning the bronze with 7 lefts. That's quite something, eh?

Kirk
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