Rens Blom celebrates winning the men's Pole Vault (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Helsinki, Finland

Blom - the luck of the Flying Dutchman - “I’m the worst jumper over the bar!”

Rens Blom readily admits that he owes his World title in the Pole Vault at the 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, to a little bit of old-fashioned luck. After all, he said, he hasn’t had much come his way.

On his second attempt at 5.65, the 28-year-old Dutchman came down hard on the cross bar, but for reasons Blom finds inexplicable, the bar stayed on.

“It was a really bad jump,” he said, “but I made it. I was very lucky. I don’t know. I’ve never had that before. And I think that pushed me over the edge to get the confidence that I could do this today. And the only thing I could think was to seize this moment.”

Staying on top of the weather

He did just that. Tied with U.S. Champion Brad Walker through 5.75 - each missed twice at 5.50, 5.65 and 5.75 - Blom seized the moment, and his first major title with a first attempt clearance at 5.80. It may have been the lowest winning height since a then unknown Sergey Bubka won the first of his six consecutive World titles with a 5.70m clearance in this same stadium 22-years-ago, but considering the conditions, at times rainy, at times windy and consistently cold, it was nonetheless an impressive leap to the top for Blom.

“When I woke up this morning and saw the weather, I didn’t know if we were even going to jump, since they had moved the women’s final. But when we got out there and saw the difficult conditions, I just didn’t want it to get to me. I wanted to stay on top of it and try to ignore that. And I think I did that.”

With the unrelenting winds and steady rains as a backdrop, the entire field could have used some luck. Six of the 12 needed two or three attempts before topping a modest 5.50, while just four successfully negotiated 5.65.

“My jumping was terrible at 5.50,” Blom said, shaking his head. “I don’t know what happened because the warm-up was fantastic. I took my first jump and got so close to the pit and actually hurt my leg a little bit and I didn’t know what was happening.” After his second miss, he made further adjustments before finally going over.

Entitled to some luck

Then Lady Luck descended from the grey wet skies.

“And than at 5.65 I was just so lucky. I said to my coach that I’m entitled to be this lucky because I’ve never done that. Because I’m the worse jumper over the bar! I make the stupidest misses, I think, in the world. And today, the bar stayed up. I think that after all these years of pole vaulting and never having been that lucky, I think today was my day.”

Previous championships success

The 2000 bronze medallist at the European Indoor Championships, Blom made his first waves internationally with a bronze medal winning effort at the 2003 World Indoor Championships in Birmingham. But Blom has had none of that luck he referred to in previous World Championships appearances. He no-heighted in Edmonton in 2001, and didn’t qualify for the final in Paris.

Misleading form

In his lead-up to Helsinki, he scaled a near-PB 5.80 on May 1 - he jumped a centimetre higher last year - to arrive in the Finnish capital tied as the eighth best jumper of the year, but was on few radars as a potential winner. But Blom believes that his season’s best, particularly this season, is misleading.

“I’ve actually been waiting to jump much higher for quite some time. In the first competition this year I jumped 5.80 and I just missed 5.90, like I just said, in a stupid way. And I knew I could do it then. I had to pace myself with every competition, reminding myself that I had to do it in Helsinki.”

With a gold medal dangling around his neck, Blom has been energized with the confidence of a champion.

“I know I can jump higher,” he said. “Now, the World Championships has given me wings, I think.”

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF