Origins of An Olympic Sport

A friend and I were discussing the Olympics, and wondered where the origins of some of these sports came about. Running and swimming make sense; the javelin mimics spear throwing… but where the heck did pole vaulting come in? Was there some war tactic where men vaulted themselves over castle walls? Are there any historical facts for its existence?

I would of WAG’ed something like your explanation but this is what I found.

The History of Pole Vaulting According to Nate.

Don’t know who or what Nate is but FWIW people still do this in Holland.

In Frisian (spoken along the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany) there’s a word fierljepp for a practice similar to the pole vault. It originated as a practical way to cross ditches and canals without getting their feet wet, just as in yojimbo’s link. I have often wondered if this was the direct ancestor of the Olympic sport.

Coldfire gave a link to info. and a pic. about Fierljeppen in the Irish Football thread in MPSIMS .

Spot on, Jimbo. Never really thought about fierljeppen being the cradle of olympic pole vaulting, but I guess it makes sense.

I just have to say, this place is an amazing wealth of information.

I just love you guys!

The Irish Football thread? I guess I don’t get over to MPSIMS as often as I ought. You have some interesting stuff over there. What are the chances two dopers would mention the same bizarre sport in two threads on the same day. Just about 100%, come to think of it. I first read about fierljepp in the Wall Street Journal a few years ago. I can’t remember if they said it was the ancestor of the pole vault or not, but that’s what it reminded me of.