Olson was looking anything but O.K. when he took his first vault, at 18'4�". He was struggling so much that he needed three vaults to clear that height. He required three more jumps to make 18'8�", a respectable height when you consider that no other person has ever vaulted higher indoors.
Olson took his last three vaults with the bar at 19'�", the same height as Polyakov's outdoor record. Weary from five hours of mostly sitting around, he nevertheless followed the Second Principle of Vaulting, as taught to him by Don Hood, his coach at Abilene Christian: "You can't win a horse race by yelling whoa." (First Principle: Run fast, hold high and carry a big pole.) And Olson's second and third tries at 19'�" were tantalizingly close, a sign that a major leap forward in the outdoor world record may not be too far off.
"Billy could go 20," says Hood. "He's got all the tools." All Olson needs, perhaps, are the proper license plates.