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Pole Vaulting



As a fan of the Olympics, I often find myself watching the track and field events whenever the summer Olympics comes around. One event that particularly fascinates me is the pole vault. It seems like such a tremendous skill to pull off and I honestly wonder how people do it. If you haven't seen it, basically a competitor runs at full speed with a large pole in their hands, and once they reach a certain point they stab the pole in the ground and attempt to physics themselves over a bar set high up in the air. In short, the kinetic energy (1/2mv^2) of the individual in sprint is converted to gravitational potential energy (mgh), thus making them go as high as possible into the air. While in the air, a competitor contorts themselves in order to get over the bar without contacting it, which I believe would be a fault. In doing this, they change around their center of mass to points both above and below the bar, at times, in order to get their entire body over the bar. Once over the bar, the pole vaulter lands on a large mattress type thing, that applies an impulse to the vaulter upon landing that is too small to provide any bodily injury to the individual. So thankfully, competitors are able to pull off this feat of physics over and over again for our entertainment.


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