Mack sets Olympic record

Updated: August 28, 2004, 3:11 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press