Kjell Isaksson

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Kjell Isaksson
Kjell Isaksson 1972.jpg
Isaksson at the 1972 Olympics
Personal information
Born 28 February 1948 (1948-02-28) (age 70)
Härnösand, Västernorrland, Sweden
Height 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight 70 kg (154 lb)
Sport Pole vault
Club Sundbybergs IK
Österhaninge IF[1]
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s) 5.59 m (1972)[1][2]

Kjell Gunnar Isaksson (born 28 February 1948) is a retired pole vaulter from Sweden, who broke the world record several times in 1972. First he broke the record set by Christos Papanikolaou of Greece and San Jose State University two years earlier, by jumping 5.51 metres in Austin, Texas, becoming the second man to clear 18 feet. A week later he improved it to 5.54 m in Los Angeles, California.[3] His technique inspired several aspects of the Petrov/Bubka model.[4] Two months later he added another centimeter at a meet in Helsingborg, Sweden. His record reign was ended on 2 July 1972 when the reigning Olympic champion Bob Seagren jumped 5.63 m at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Isaksson set his personal best at 5.59 m in El Paso, Texas, on 23 May 1972.[1][5]

Isaksson competed at the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Olympics with the best result of tenth place in 1968.[1][6] In 1972 he was handicapped by a sudden change of rules by the IAAF and could not clear any height.[7] He appeared on the cover of Track and Field News several times starting in April 1971,[8] then March, April and June 1972 (with Seagren).[9] Nationally he won the pole vault title in 1968–71 and 1973–79 and was active in bowling in the 2000s.[10]


Isaksson achieved international fame in the late 1970s as one of the most successful Superstars competitors, winning two European titles and finishing second in the inaugural 1977 World Championship. he dominated the European competition in 1975 and 1976, defeating the British Superstar David Hemery twice, and scoring 56 points (out of a maximum 80) in the 1975 final. Isaksson was particularly strong in the running events (where he would only be allowed to compete after giving away "handicaps" to his rivals) and the gymnasium. He would gain extra points in weightlifting contests by lifting higher weights in proportion to his body weight than his heavier opponents. This gave him a major chance in the 1977 World Championship, though he was hindered by the IAAF disqualifying him from professional athletics competition (and thus the running events). This was to give his American rival Bob Seagren a major advantage. Now retired from athletics, Seagren was free to compete in the running events and scored enough points here to beat Isaksson into second place. Until Brian Hooper won the last World Final in 1982, Isaksson was the most successful European Superstar ever.

Superstars record

Year Event Position
1975 Spanish Heat 1st
1975 European Final 1st
1976 Swedish Heat 1st
1976 European Final 1st
1977 World Final 2nd
1980 International 2nd


  1. ^ a b c d Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill. "Kjell Isaksson". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. 
  2. ^ Kjell Isaksson. trackfield.brinkster.net
  3. ^ "Over and over again". Sports Illustrated report of the World record at 5.54 m set at Los Angeles, April 1972, with interview
  4. ^ Discussion of Isaksson's technique. polevaultpower.com. Bubka mentions The strategy of my coach and me was that we looked at pictures of all the best pole vaulters from around the world, and we took the best parts from them, and we created a person that had never existed "On the Road to Atlanta". The Ukrainian Weekly. 2 June 1996. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2007. 
  5. ^ Video at Youtube or Vimeo
  6. ^ Kjell Isaksson. Swedish Olympic Committee
  7. ^ Athletics at the 1972 München Summer Games: Men's Pole Vault. sports-reference.com
  8. ^ Past Covers 1971. Trackandfieldnews.com. Retrieved on 13 June 2015.
  9. ^ Past Covers 1972. Trackandfieldnews.com. Retrieved on 13 June 2015.
  10. ^ Kjell Isaksson 1948-02-28. storagrabbar.se

External links

  • (in English) 1971 Year Ranking
Preceded by
Greece Christos Papanikolaou
Men's Pole Vault World Record Holder
8 April 1972 – 2 July 1972
Succeeded by
United States Bob Seagren
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Greece Christos Papanikolaou
Men's Pole Vault Best Year Performance
Succeeded by
United States Bob Seagren
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