MR. FERRIS MAKES A PUN
Word went out last week that the International Amateur Athletic Federation had banned for Olympic use the type of pole Bob Seagren used to make his world-record vault of 18'5�". And not just Seagren would be handicapped. So would the two other U.S. vaulters chosen for the Munich Games.
"New poles have recently been developed using new materials or different methods of manufacture," an official IAAF statement said. "These poles enable a vaulter with a given body weight and strength to use a lighter pole than hitherto."
Conceding that such poles do not contravene existing IAAF rules, the statement nonetheless held that "the use of a new, improved type of pole could confer an advantage on the limited number of athletes who have had the pole in their possession for a long enough period to become accustomed to its special properties. The IAAF has therefore decided that for a pole to be permitted for use at the 1972 Olympic Games, it must have been available to all athletes through normal supply channels since August 1971."
Whereupon George Moore, maker of the pole, set a new record for hitting ceilings.
"It's a production pole," he said, "not a special pole produced only for Seagren. We have between 350 and 400 of these poles in use throughout the world by all the world-class vaulters....
"There are no new materials in these poles. They are 100% fiber glass. The only difference is that the glass has greater strength-to-weight ratio. This enables us to produce a pole that is lighter and smaller in diameter."
If further confusion is needed, consider the version of Dan Ferris, U.S. member of the IAAF council, who said he took part in a mail vote of the council in which the question was: "Should carbon fibers be permitted in new vaulting poles for Olympic competition?" Along with others in the council, he voted "No." The 83-year-old Ferris said he never did vote against the pole Seagren uses, since it contains no carbon. Nor does another similar pole.
"Those people were barking up the wrong pole," he said. "I sent a cablegram to the Federation explaining that those two poles were not suspect.
"The whole thing," he concluded, "is up in the air." Then he chuckled.