Vladimir Yashchenko

The High Jump Record will be broken soon….

Vladimir Yashchenko Proved The High Jump Record Should Be Higher.

Most high jump experts believe the high jump record is unbreakable. After all, it’s stood firm since 1993, 25 years ago. Javier Sotomayor set the seemingly unattainable high jump record of 8’½” (2.45m) in Spain.

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Who’s Come CloseTo Breaking The High Jump Record?

Mutaz Essa Barshim came close with a jump of 2.43m in 2014. That’s the best jump by anyone besides Sotomayor in world history.

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A few other jumpers like Bondarenko and Sjoberg achieved 2.42m with everyone else back at 2.40m.

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Why is the high jump record so elusive and why hasn’t anybody topped it? I don’t know that answer but this is what I do know. We once had a high jumper with a Center-Of-Mass (COM) a few inches higher than Sotomayor’s!

Higher Than Sotomayor?

I will show you why the high jump record will fall.

High Jump Record / Yashchenko. photo courtesy of Wikipedia

What could Vladimir Yashchenko have accomplished if not for his career-ending knee injury at the age of 20?

Yashchenko used the straddle to compete at a high level and set his final highest jump in the world at the time, 7’8¹⁄²” in 1978.

Valdimir Yashchenko
photo courtesy of Pinterest

Vladimir Yashchenko High Jump

Born in Zaporizhia, USSR in 1959, Yashchenko and his childhood were kept quiet until an eventful junior event in 1977 at the University of Richmond.

It started off as a quiet, low-key track meet, the US v USSR juniors. The University of Richmond is set in a small forest and tall, picturesque trees provide much of the background. The July weekend simmerring, the 2,000-seat stands filling, everyone enjoying watching the US team beat their young Soviet counterparts in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere .[1]

Suddenly Yashchenko emerged. The teenager introduced himself to the world by breaking the world record high jump as an unknown 18-year-old!

More amazingly, Yashchenko set the high jump record using the high jump style called the straddle.

The straddle is also called the straddle roll, the straddle jump, or the straddle technique high jump.

In world track and field, the straddle technique disappeared when Dick Fosbury introduced the flop in the 1968 Olympic Games.

Now, Yashchenko used the straddle technique to eliminate every flopper in his path.

Why Can You Jump Higher With The Flop

Flop technique high jumpers should be able to jump higher than straddlers because they don’t have to move their COM as high.  Yashchenko moved his COM at least above 2.35cm or more.

That’s my point, floppers can clear heights when the Center-of-Mass goes under the crossbar. Sotomayer’s COM when he jumped 8’¹⁄²” fell below 7’10”?

Here’s a diagram that illustrates a flopper’s COM and by arching, the COM goes under the crossbar and the jumper clears the height.

Fosbury Flop Diagram
Center of Mass diagram courtesy of  wiki/flop

Straddlers have to get their Center-of-Mass ABOVE the crossbar to clear the height according to this diagram.

Center of Mass straddle diagram
straddle diagram provided courtesy of fourhorsemen

If that’s true then where is Yashchenko’s Center-of-Mass in this jump over 7’8¹⁄²”?

Is his COM above 7’10”? Is his COM above 8′? What could a talented flopper today do with that COM?

High Jump Record 2.35m
High Jump Record, Yashchenko 2.35 meters. Photo courtesy of finzioni

Obviously, the chance of Yashchenko converting to the flop and succeeding was far to none because of the specialization and difficulty of the two techniques. We did however at one time have a gifted competitor with us who’s COM was far higher than today’s competitors and maybe high enough to shatter Sotomayor’s record.

That’s why it’s exciting to know that it’s possible to know a jumper will come along and shatter the record!

Sadly, Yashchenko generated so much force on his takeoff leg that he blew his patella off his left knee and ended his career forever.

He passed away in 1999 at the age of 40.



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  1. John R

    I take issue with difficuty switching styles. I went from being a 7’1″ straddler to a 7’6″ flopper. The switch for me was incredibly easy as I already had a bent lead leg drive. Also, I went to Oregon State University and was a teammate of Fosbury.

  2. Travis Bishop

    Hi Paul. Wilt was a star high jumper in high school and college clearing 6’6″+ according to research. He even won the Drake Relays High Jump event while he was at Kansas U. He used the straddle technique and surely could have developed it into something special had he pursued it. Wilt is interesting to think about. He was certainly gifted enough to do whatever he wanted but could he lean with speed through the last two steps of a flop approach. I’ve seen kids who could put their chins on basketball rims high jump 5’6″ because they can’t perform the lean.

    There were also some great straddlers in Wilt’s time. Valeri Brumel comes to mind. He was 6’1″ and could kick a basketball rim and high jump 7’5″.

  3. Paul Michalski

    Wilt Chamberlain would have easily cleared 8 feet if he’d pursued the high jump. Look at his basketball and volleyball videos.

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