Sergii Bubka

Olympic Person of the Month September 2023

Sergii Bubka, born in December 1963, is a name synonymous with excellence in the world of pole vaulting. This Ukrainian former pole vaulter has left an indelible mark on the sport and is widely regarded as the greatest pole vaulter of all time. Bubka was chosen as the Olympic Person of the Month on behalf of the EOA for his remarkable contributions to the world of athletics, on and off the court.

Sergii Bubka began his pole vaulting journey at the age of ten. At 19, Bubka won his first gold medal at the World Athletics Championships in Helsinki, showcasing flawless technique. He went on to dominate the world championships, winning gold in six consecutive outdoor and four indoor events from 1985 to 1997. Representing both the Soviet Union and Ukraine, Bubka claimed the Olympic gold medal in Seoul in 1988 and emerged victorious at the European championship in Stuttgart in 1986. Bubka’s most remarkable achievement was continuously breaking the pole vault world record, setting it 35 times, including reaching an astonishing 614 cm outdoors and 615 cm indoors in 1994. In 1988-1991 he was recognized as the Best Track-and-Field Athlete of the World.

After retiring from competitive athletics, Bubka transitioned to administration. He became a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, serving on its Committee on Youth, Culture, Sport, and Tourism from 2002 to 2006. Bubka’s dedication to sports administration and governance continued as he took up roles in prominent organizations such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). He held positions on the IOC Executive Board from 2000 to 2008, and 2012 to 2020. Additionally, Bubka served as the Chairman of the IOC Athletes Commission in 2002 – 2008, and he chaired the IOC Entourage Commission in 2010 – 2023.

Notably, Bubka’s involvement with the IAAF has been extensive. He became a member of the IAAF in 2001, Executive Board member in 2008, and served as Senior Vice President (2015- 2023). Bubka was responsible for overseeing the successful organization of the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu and the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow, as the Chairman of the Coordination Committee, headed the IAAF Development Committee. Although he narrowly lost the IAAF Presidential election in 2015, Bubka’s contributions to the organization have been highly regarded with a Gold Order of Merit by IAAF and he was honored to occupy the place in the IAAF Hall of Fame. His legacy extends beyond his extraordinary sporting achievements and administrative endeavors. He has also been recognized as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, highlighting his commitment to promoting goodwill and positive change through sports.

Bubka’s remarkable career as a pole vaulter, coupled with his extensive involvement in sports administration, has earned him widespread admiration and respect. As the EOA’s Olympic Person of the Month, Bubka continues to inspire athletes around the globe with his dedication, perseverance, and unwavering pursuit of excellence.