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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 9, 2002

Vaulting safety still hot topic

By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer

It's been a month after the last fatal accident involving the pole vault and people are still talking.

And talking safety.

The U.S. Track and Field Association met yesterday to discuss safety recommendations and issue guidelines on the sizes of pits and padding in the box (the 8-inch deep rectangle area where vaulters plant their poles). The NCAA is planning to hold a similar meeting next month.

Pole vaulting safety was thrust into the spotlight after a 17-year-old high school vaulter died after hitting his head on the pavement during a 12-foot attempt at a meet in Wichita, Kan., last month. That was the third death related to pole vaulting in three months.

Even in Hawai'i, where there have been no record of any catastrophic injuries in pole vaulting, the safety of the sport has become a priority among athletic administrators.

Pole vaulting safety will be high on the agenda of things to discuss at the upcoming Hawai'i High School Athletic Association's annual athletic director's conference in June.

"The deaths on the Mainland have certainly made us more aware and concerned about pole vault safety," HHSAA president Keith Amemiya said.

The conference will take place June 9-11 on Kaua'i.