The first recognized world pole vault record was 13′ 2’1/4″, set by Marc Wright in 1912 (Cambridge, Mass). It took 15 years before the 14-foot mark was pierced (by Sabin Carr, 1927 in Philadelphia, Pa.)
In in 1940 Cornelius Warmerdam broke the 15-foot barrier (Fresno, Ca.). It wasn’t until February 2, 1962 when the 16-foot mark was eclipsed. John Uelses did it at Madison Square Garden in New York, when he was competing in the Millrose Games. However, at that time, indoor records were not sanctioned. Officially, the first 16-foot vault came later in 1962. Uelses set that mark as well, on March 31 in Santa Barbara, Ca.
While it took almost 22 years for the record to climb from 15 feet to 16 feet, it only took 17 months (John Pennel in Coral Gables, Florida on August 24, 1963) before the mark had jumbed to 17 feet. The world had to wait another seven years before Christos Papanikolou topped the 18-foot barrier (Athens Greece, October 24, 1970.)
On June 20, 1981, in Macon, France, Thierry Vignon became the first person to vault 19 feet. A whole decade passed before Sergey Bubka broke the 20 foot barrier. He did it in Malmo, Sweden on May 6, 1991. That was the 10th time that Bubka had broken the world pole vault record. Bubka broke the record for the 17th and last time, on July 31, in Sistriere, Italy. On that day Bubka cleared 20′ 1 3/4.”
Bubka’s record stood until February 15, 2014, when Renaud Lavillenie vaulted 20′ 2 1/2″ in Donesk, Ukraine. For the first time in almost 30 years, Sergey Bubka did not hold the world pole vault record.