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Mack sets Olympic record

8/28/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- Tim Mack cleared an Olympic-record 19
feet, 6¼ inches on his final try to lead a 1-2 American finish in
the pole vault Friday night.

Toby Stevenson cleared 19-4¼ for the silver medal, as the United
States took the top two places in the event for the second Olympics
in a row. Giuseppe Gibilisco of Italy, the 2003 world champion,
earned the bronze at 19-2½.

Stevenson led through most of the competition and was lying
comfortably on his back, knowing the gold was his if Mack missed.
But the 32-year-old vaulter from Knoxville, Tenn., cleared the bar
for a personal best mark and Stevenson failed on his third and
final try at 19-4¼, slamming his trademark helmet into the landing
pit in disgust.

He then hugged Mack, and watched as the champion took his last
three attempts.

The colorful Stevenson had got the crowd going with his
celebrations, including a "shimmy-shake'' with his hands after
making one of his early heights.

Mack, the U.S. trials champion, missed three times at 19-8¼ (six
meters). Stevenson and American record-holder Jeff Hartwig have
cleared that height.

Four years ago in Sydney, Americans Nick Hysong and Lawrence
Johnson finished 1-2 in the pole vault.

Mack, whose previous personal best was 19-4¼, broke the Olympic
record of 19-5¼ shared by three vaulters -- Andre Tivontchik of
Germany, Igor Trandevkov of Russia and Jean Galfione of France. All
three set the mark in Atlanta in 1996.

Mack and Stevenson both cleared 19-4¼ on their first attempt.
Stevenson began celebrating as he fell down to the mat, shaking his
fists in triumph because he knew he had taken the lead on fewer
misses.

Americans Derek Miles and Stevenson, joined by Gibilisco,
clapped in unison in support of Mack's final try.

There was a frightening moment in the competition when Russian
Pavel Gerasimov failed at 18-6½, then missed the landing area,
falling on his back on the hard infield surface at Olympic Stadium.
But Gerasimov climbed to his feet, walking away and rubbing his
lower back. He attempted one more jump, at 18-10½, but stopped
midway down the runway because of the pain and withdrew from the
competition.