Sergey Bubka, a story of fair play

Sergey Bubka

The world has witnessed many athletes/sportspersons come and go, create records in between, experience extreme adulations from around the globe and offer some exciting sporting moments.

Among the billions of sportsmen and women we have seen over the years, there have surely been greats, celebrated champions as well as lesser-known players who used to believe in the spirit of fair play and had faith in fair competition. One such athlete is Sergey Bubka of Ukraine; he was known for his exemplary behavior and heroic acts both on and off the field.

Sergey Bubka

Sergey Bubka

Before telling you Bubka’s story of fair play, let us introduce Sergey Bubka.

Sergey Bubka, the Ukrainian born on December 4, 1963, is a former pole vaulter. Bubka represented the USSR (Soviet Union) till 1991 (until the state’s dissolution), and then onwards has been a representative of Ukraine.

Bubka’s sporting achievements make him one of the all time greats, and he surely makes the list of top five pole vaulters ever to take part in the event. Some even say that he is the all time best pole vaulter.

Bubka has been named the Athlete of the Year twice by American monthly sports magazine Track & Field News. Additionally, he is one of the first 24 athletes to be inducted into IAAF’s hall of fame in 2012.

So, what makes Bubka an epitome of fair play? It’s Bubka’s generosity. The year 1995 saw the Olympic and World Champion Ukrainian pole vaulter help Okkert Brits, a South African rival of his, by allowing him to use his equipment. Bubka lend his equipment not once, but twice.

On July 3, 1995, during the Paris Grand Prix, Bubka allowed Brits to use his equipment after coming to know that the South African’s equipment hasn’t arrived at the competition venue.

The second time he allowed Brits to use his pole vaulting equipment was during the IAAF Grand Prix held in Munich, Germany; the incident took place on September 9, 1995. This generous act of his, however, cost him a win. Brits won the competition by vaulting 5.95 m; Bubka, on the other hand, managed to jump only 5.90 m.

Many will remember Sergey Bubka for his sporting records in the pole vault we want also to remember him and celebrate him as a real sportman and for his great fair play on and off the field.

The greatness of this man has reached our days. He is nowadays Vice President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Executive Board Member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine.

Named three times World Sportsman of the Year, Mr. Sergey Bubka was designated UNESCO Champion for Sport in 2003 in recognition of his role in the promotion of peace and tolerance through sport and the Olympic spirit, his humanitarian activities in favour of young people, his action to enable disadvantaged children to benefit from physical education, and his dedication to the Organization’s ideals.

You can find more info on his personal website:

“People come from around the world and can understand each other without even speaking the same languages!”
(Sergey Bubka)

Bubka won the pole vault event in six consecutive IAAF World Championships in Athletics in the period from 1983 to 1997:

Year Competition Venue Position Winning height (m)
1983 World Championships Helsinki 1st  5.70 m
1987 World Championships Rome 1st  5.85 m
1991 World Championships Tokyo 1st  5.95 m
1993 World Championships Stuttgart 1st  6.00 m
1995 World Championships Gothenburg 1st  5.92 m
1997 World Championships Athens 1st  6.01 m


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