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Dear Friend! In your hands you are holding a book that I have been willing to share with you for a long time. Here is my story of becoming a man, an athlete, a person, a patriot of my country, a story of a boy who was able to live out his childhood dream. We often hear that champions are born, not made, but my example confidently demonstrates that this is far from being true. Assertiveness, selforganisation, full dedication, discipline, diligence, absolute commitment to a goal, skills of constant learning and perfection lead to success and victories not only in sports but in life as well. "You win yourself  you win the others" is the motto of my life, which helps me move only forward. Every one of us has many talents that we never suspect of. The main task is to overcome one's weaknesses and to refine oneself. If you are ready to open up new aspects of yourself, to venture and to surmount all obstacles, to march confidently towards the goal you have set and the dream you have got, this book will help you stay on your path and earn a rightful place in the sun. Sergey Bubka

Kyiv 2015

лаaternal home! My memories always

bring me back to a small Grandma's house on the workers' outskirts of Voroshilovgrad (now  Lugansk), where I was born and spent my childhood. This small tworoom house, with windows two feet above the ground, accommodated my whole family: my Grandmother, my parents and myself with Vasia  my elder brother. My Mother worked at one of the day hospitals of our town. My Father was a military officer. He was rather highhanded with us, not letting us have an easy time. He made sure that we did our household chores and fostered love for our land in us.


Life was not easy to my Grandmother who

was raising my brother and me when our parents were at work. But in spite of all difficulties she had faced that could make her stern and severe, she always dwells in my memory as a wise and judicious, kind, warmhearted and fairminded person.


Unlike my brother, from my early

childhood I had been known as a slashing fellow. Once left unattended by seniors out in the yard, I finally got a chance to explore what was there in a twentybucket barrel that was standing under the roof of the house. I managed to pull myself up on my hands and look into the barrel. But I couldn't maintain the balance and plunged into it. Luckily for me my brother came out of the house and shouted at the top of his lungs: "Sergey is drowning!" Alerted by this call my Mum ran out and saved me.


I was bored sitting still and wanted to

investigate everything around me. That is why I kept getting into troubles. Once I crept under a bus and it suddenly started moving. Thanks to some adults who had noticed me and started screaming loudly, the driver instantly hit the brake. Some other time I decided to explore the cellar, but I lost my footing in a hurry and rolled down the concrete steps nearly breaking it all. Another day I wanted to hide from my Mum, so I climbed up an apricottree and kept quiet in its leaves. But the branch could not hold up my weight and broke, so I downed to earth right at my Mother's feet. I caught it a lot for all my mischievous tricks.


My favourite amusement was football.

I could kick a ball about the waste ground for hours, playing either for our yard team or the quarter team or the street. I rarely got an opportunity to play on a real football field.


Đ?owever, training on gymnastic grounds

was almost always possible. There I competed with other boys in agility and dexterity. Most of all I enjoyed rope climbing, exercising on parallel bars and buck jumping. On winter days we indulged into hockey battles.


My first encounter with a real sport was in

a swimming pool where I came to register to the swimming club. But monotonous trainings in the swimming pool did not attract me. Later I attended a group of artistic gymnastics and there I also did not stay long. I got to a jumping section thanks to my friend, Slava Malakhov, who told everyone that one could even fly over our Lugan' River from one bank to another with a pole or easily fly up to the second floor of our house.


In autumn of 1974 I attended

polevaulters' training for the first time. Fascinated, I watched boys flying as high as a twostorey house. There I also had my first meeting with my coach Vitaly Petrov.


As if not noticing my delight, Coach asked me

to do a couple of exercises: to do pullups, to run for 30 and 60 metres and to make a long jump. Coach seemed to be satisfied with my results and said:

ÂŤYou shall be a polevaulter!Âť


But it was still a long way to real polevaulting.

During my trainings I learned different track and field disciplines, jumped long and high, participated in various relay races endlessly invented by our Coach. And only some time later it was the time for polevaulting. Once my teacher brought a platform to the rink, ordered me to climb it, to stick a metal bar for polevaulting into the sand box and just to keep pushing this improvised pole. Later on I started long jumping and then high jumping with this pole. My first result was

2 metres 75 centimetres.


I had been bruised and raised bumps for so

many times, I had even knocked my tooth out before I experienced that amazing feeling of flying over the bar. In addition to my knockedout tooth, I had also late returns from trainings, and it seemed that they were coming to an end. My parents said unanimously: "That's enough! Consider it finished!" And so it would have happened if not for my brother who stood up for me and promised that he would accompany me to my sports activities and, while doing it, he would try training himself if Coach agreed.


So unwittingly, my brother got keen on pole

vaulting. At trainings he spared no efforts, willing to achieve the results of his peers as soon as possible. Year by year he added one metre to his previous year's results. His diligence and determination soon let him show the best results in the group, and he was the first one in our Coach's group to qualify for Master of Sport. He became a bronze medallist at the World Indoor Games of 1985, a silver medallist at the European Championships of 1986. At the World Championships of 1993 he ranked 9th with the result of 5 metres 70 centimetres. In 1985 he became the Champion of the USSR, in 1994 and 1996  the Champion of Ukraine.


In 1979 there was a turning point in our

lives. Our Coach was offered good conditions for training polevaulters in Donetsk and he agreed to move. Following him, we moved to Donetsk. Our Mother let us fly out of the nest with a sore and uneasy heart. After all, my brother was 18, and I was only 15. Then she said: "Go, son. You will not do without it." I remember walking down the railway platform: my brother was carrying a suitcase with books and my stuff, and Mum was giving us her last guidance.


It was not a far trip  only four hours, but in

fact we were heading towards a new adult life. My destiny could have been different if my brother had not influenced my sport life and had not become my reliable support when we moved to the strange and unknown Donetsk. And if polevaulting was destined to become our family sport, then my brother is to be considered the founder of the "dynasty", not me.


Gradually we got used to

independence: we lived in a dorm, took care of ourselves. I was the first one to get up, heated up our breakfast in the common kitchen and rushed to school. My brother took on the cooking duty, and I bought and delivered groceries. At first money was scarce with us, so we had to save expenses. From our childhood we were not used to live in excess, so we tried to follow the principle of sensible needs in everything. We had to attend to ourselves: buy groceries, cook, do laundry, iron, clean the room, in other words, to grow up. Those were difficult years for both of us, but they made us stronger.


I continued my studies at Donetsk School

No. 57. There I soon got on the inside, because, I believe, we had much in common with my classmates. We were united in our love for sports, which had been instilled by our PE teacher. Sometimes I had to do my homework in a trolleybus on my way from school to the stadium and from the stadium to the dorm. Humanities: History, Literature came easily to me. The school principal who taught History in our class wondered why I paid so much attention to polevaulting. He was convinced that I could make a career of a great historian. My secondary school diploma showed only good marks.


My training schedule was very tight.

But for achieving the desired results not only a hard work was needed. It was important to keep regular hours and follow a meal plan. We remembered well a piece of advice by the famous doctor Nikolai Amosov  never to be afraid of hunger  and up to now we take it very seriously. As being overweight for a polevaulter is the same big problem as for a gymnast or a ballet dancer. Strenuous physical exertion requires from an athlete a permanent and mandatory compliance with a clear daily routine, proper distribution of time as for work, leisure, food and sleep. An efficient selforganisation is a prerequisite of each person who wants to succeed.


If you are in good shape, nothing is in your

way. And it is quite a different story if you are tired and drained. How to train in such condition? Then my Coach came to help. He not only trained me to jump correctly, but he taught me the attitude of winning. In summer 1980 I qualified for Master of Sport, clearing 5 metres 10 centimetres, and then I first became the winner of the Country's Championship among juniors.


In 1983 Helsinki, the capital of Finland, hosted

the first in history World Athletics Championships. At the age of 19 I was entrusted to defend the honour of our country. Helsinki Championships turned out to be as lucky for me as for the Soviet athletes who had competed at the Games of the XV Olympiad. I managed to leave strongest competitors behind and to win the champion's title, clearing the bar at the height of 5 metres 70 centimetres.


The year of 1984 was a big success for me. In

Bratislava I set my first world record  5 metres 85 centimetres. After I had started my runup, I had a thought: I will definitely clear this height. Then for 5 metres of my runningup I was somehow distracted. And then I tried to fulfil it all technically correct. I thought only of making a good takeoff and prepared myself for the moment when I had to perform everything with a high precision. This record turned out to be very important for me psychologically. In the same year I set all six records in sports arenas of Paris, London, Rome, Vilnius, Milan and Los Angeles.


World Indoor Championships in Athletics were

the favourite projects of the IAAF ExPresident Primo Nebiolo. In 1985 the first Championshipthe the was held in Palais Omnisports de ParisBercy in Paris, the capital of France. I was delighted to hear President's words that the success of these competitions was ensured to a large extent by brilliant performances and victories of Marita Koch, Javier Sotomayor, Patrik Sjoberg and mine. Afterwards throughout my whole career I felt support and cordial liking from this outstanding man.


Each competition remains memorable to me. But

the most precious one is the polevault at Jean Bouin Stadium in Paris on July 13, 1985 when I succeeded in what had seemed impossible before  becoming the first man in the world to clear the sixmetre height. Of course, I was on top of my physical shape. The birth of my first son on July 9 could have also elicited my emotions and encouraged me. I cleared 5 metres 70 centimetres on my first attempt. It was enough to win, and then I made an extraordinary decision. I just thought: "Why jumping 5 metres 90 centimetres, why clearing some intermediary height? I'll just set the bar at 6 metres. "I cleared it on my third attempt. It created a sensation. The press wrote that my polevault was comparable with the flight of the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, that "Bubka conquered Bastille" (the event took place the day before the Bastille Day).

A giraffe is one of the tallest mammals. Its average height is from 4.8 to 6 metres.


I would like to say a few words about my Coach Vitaly

Petrov, whose farsightedness could be compared with the wisdom of a gardener who is in no hurry to pick an immature fruit. He did not hustle me into choosing my specialisation. He understood the necessity of multifaceted and systematic training of an athlete. Together we were gaining a quality obligatory in top sports  patience. From the very first steps he taught us to strive for excellence in sports. I adhered to this wisdom not only throughout my competitive career but in my whole life. We were like two interconnected vessels  the ones shown in textbooks on Physics: everything that he developed in himself as a sports educator was immediately transferred to me as if obliged by a natural law. I wended my way through life as my way was enlightened by his coaching knowledge, intuition and life experience.


New sporting achievements were ahead of

me  the Games of the XXIV Olympiad of 1988 in Seoul were approaching. They set new tasks for us. That year a competitive season started for me later than usual  in July. At the beginning of the season I managed to set new world records  first in Bratislava at 6 metres 05 centimetres and later in Nice at 6 metres 06 centimetres. But staying on the verge of my abilities for a long period of time was impossible. That is why after a weekly rest I put aside my pole and focused on general physical training  I ran in the forest, on sand, did some barbell exercises. In the meanwhile I studied new models of poles.


1988. The Games of the XXIV Olympiad

in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea. Fifteen polevaulters were admitted to the competition for the Olympic medals. Among my competitors there were many of my good friends, elite polevaulters. A strong squally wind got up before my final attempt, but I stroke the right moment between its gusts and started on the runup track‌ I said to myself: "Now, this moment  or never!" and the height was cleared. I understood it right in my flight and exclaimed with joy: "Victory!"


My victory was twice as joyful. First,

my Olympic medal was awarded to me by the President of International Association of Athletics Federations Primo Nebiolo in person. And second, my teammates Rodion Gataullin and Grigoriy Yegorov stood beside me on the Olympic podium. I was overwhelmed with joy when I learned that the President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch, who had carefully followed my performances for a long time, rejoiced at my success and provided me with a good truelife guidance. In an interview he called me the most outstanding athlete of the modern era.


Throughout my competitive career

I mounted the top tier of the World Championships for six times in 1983, 1987, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997. At the World Championships of 1991 in Tokyo (Japan) I won with a humble result of 5 metres 95 centimetres as for me. However, the video analysis of the polevault showed that my winning attempt had a potential of clearing 6 metres 37 centimetres.


My last indoor record of 6 metres

15 centimetres was set on February 21, 1993 in my hometown of Donetsk. This height had not been cleared for 21 years afterwards. And my record of 6 metres 14 centimetres set in 1994 at the stadium of the Italian Sestriere has not been beaten up to this day. Out of 35 world records set by me the most memorable one is clearing the sixmetre height.


When Juan Antonio Samaranch was

elected President of the International Olympic Committee, the Olympic movement underwent great changes. One of which was that the word "athlete" no longer meant only a person doing sports but a profession as well, the same as being a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, a miner and many others. Professional athletes received an opportunity to take part in Olympic Games. I was among first Soviet athletes who obtained a profession of an athlete and started receiving material remuneration for their work. I could not but remember those uneasy conditions, in which I had been growing up and training, in which my Coach and many of his colleagues had been working. I longed to make their labour easier and to make their lives better. This is how an idea of creating a sports club which would provide decent training conditions for young athletes and their teachers emerged. In 1990 my dream came true: Sergey Bubka Sports Club was opened in Donetsk.


Sometimes I think that I could have had

fewer victories and record polevaults if not for my family  my wife Lilia, my sons Vitaly and Sergey. We have an athletic family: Lilia is a rhythmic gymnastics coach, and our sons have chosen tennis as their favourite sport. They all are my most devoted fans following all of my achievements, cheering for me at stadium stands or in front of a TVset, creating a proper working environment, delivering advice, supporting me in the hour of need, rejoicing over my victories with all their hearts. As it is so important being understood and together for better or worse. And for that I am very much grateful to them.


Sports came into my life in my childhood and stayed in it for ever.

I never saw myself out of sports, its battles, joys and sorrows. Doing what I enjoyed doing, I often thought of my future, of a coaching career. I earned a degree from one of the country's best sports educational institutions  Kiev State Institute of Physical Education. I was proud that such great athletes, Olympic champions: Larisa Latynina, Boris Shakhlin, Viktor Tsybulenko, Vladimir Golubnichiy, Valery Borzov, Anatoly Bondarchuk, Yuriy Sedykh and many others studied there. Its graduates won 111 gold, 78 silver and 87 bronze Olympic medals.


Working with international sports organisations made me realize

the acute necessity for deep studies of the history and the modern state of the Olympic movement and sports for all. From the moment I became a member of the Athletes' Commission of the International Olympic Committee, I tried to balance all aspects of my activities with education and scientific research. In 2001 I defended a PhD thesis on problems of student sports and in 2014  a doctoral thesis on the history and development of the Olympic movement.


I certainly realized that the day to part with

polevaulting would come sooner or later, but I delayed the moment as much as I could. However, after the Olympic Games in Sydney (2000) I decided to leave sport. The farewell ceremony took place in February 2001 at Pole Vault Stars Tournament in Donetsk. There I appeared in my competition uniform in front of the audience for the last time. Cheered by my fans' applause, I took off my spiked boots, zipped my pole into a bag and surrounded by young polevaulters, who took up the symbolic baton from me, left the polevaulting sector.


I always had a kind of admiring envy that in

some sports they held their prestigious tourna ments: Grand Slam tournaments in tennis, the IIHF Continental Cup in hockey, Tour de France in cycling‌ In 1990 a concept of Pole Vault Stars Tournament was born. The tournament gained a tremendous popularity and fame all over the world. Annually it gathers strongest polevaulters of the world and is believed to be the unofficial world polevaulting championship.


The progress of my competitive career

coincided with the period in office of the President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch, a man of many accomplishments and great enthusiasm, who turned the Olympic Games into the brightest event of the modern age. The ideas put into practice by Samaranch inspired me, which in the end led to my election as IOC member, Chairman of the Athletes' Commission of the IOC, and later on Member of the Executive Committee of the IOC.


I am committed to the Olympic

movement. Sport is my life. I was keen on it when I was an athlete and afterwards when I started working at executive administrative positions. I consider myself a very happy man as I have discovered the world of sports for myself. I owe it a lot and I am glad that I can serve it.


On july 23, 2005 in the auditorium of the University, where

I had received my education, I was vested with a high and honourable confidence  I was elected President of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine. For many people the NOC is associated with the Olympic Games. I would like to remark that participation in the Olympic Games is the summit to be conquered for millions of athletes from the very young age. Ukrainian athletes represent their country with honour at these sporting forums. But this is only one of our priorities. We pay much attention to promotion of sports, a healthy lifestyle, to involving children, young people and the rest of the society into sports activities.


We do a great scope of work to develop and implement

cultural and educational programmes, which help our younger generation form their best human qualities, introduce them to the national and world cultures, acquaint them with the historic heritage of the Olympic movement and the Olympic values. In our activities we prioritize ethical values and the philosophy of a "fair play". We help athletes who have left sports get settled in the society. We take care of sports veterans. The world community sets a high value on our achievements: the NOC of Ukraine was recognized as one of the leaders in the world for its promotion of sports and the Olympic values.


It's been a long time since then. Today

I participate in largest track and field competitions of the planet but already as an official. Many of my friends and colleagues  Irena Szewinska, Alberto Juantorena, Stefka Kostadinova, Nawal ElMoutawakel and many others  went the same way after leaving sports and staying in the service of the "Queen of Sports". Friendly relations and constant contacts with them helped me feel comfortable with the environment and actively contribute to the development of my favourite sport, promote its popularity in the world and training of young athletes.


After retirement I thought I would be

able to forget athletics with my 25year record of a backbreaking labour and will do some thing different. But the passion for my sport has become my second nature. I decided to engage myself with athletics but in the other role. In 2001 I was elected member of the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), one of the most influential organizations in the world sports. I have been the IAAF Vice President since 2007.


I am a perfectionist and I always strive for

one thing  a victory. And in order to win at the highest level one has to commit oneself to the objective in full. And sometimes a sacrifice is needed in the name of an ambitious goal. To surpass oneself is one of the highest goals for a person in sports and, I suppose, in any other creative activity.


It is a great pleasure for me to see if my

counselling of gifted and talented athletes helps them achieve success and gain victories.


To achieve such goal in sport, besides

the talent one requires more: asceticism and willingness to endure hardships with dignity for the sake of highend, to give up voluntarily many temptations of life. In sports, as in any other spheres of life, it is necessary, first of all, to learn to overcome your weaknesses. To win every day, including weekends and holidays.


No matter how hard your life may be,

wherever your destiny may bring you to, never stop on the way to the goal you have or set. Nothing is impossible to a person if he or she believes in his or her strengths. Win! Win yourself! Win your worthy opponents in fair competitions! This is what a true human happiness is!


The Edition of the International Centre for the Olympic Studies and Education

Flying Bubka. — К.: Оlymp. Lit., 2015. — 48 p. ISBN 9789662419061

The edition used the memories of an outstanding athlete of our time Sergey Bubka and the materials from his personal archive.

ISBN 9789662419061

Profile for Sergey Bubka

Flying Bubka (english language)  

Flying Bubka (english language)