Midair Dogfight Bubka, Olson, Dial Cross Poles At Millrose

Posted: February 14, 1986

NEW YORK — Sergei Bubka, whose first name has been spelled either Sergey or Sergei, this week pulled out his Soviet passport and set the record straight.

But the record he really wants to set straight is in the pole vault, an event that has seen seven indoor marks in the past seven weeks. The 79th annual Millrose Games has stars of Olympic stature - sprinter Evelyn Ashford, miler Eamonn Coghlan, hurdler Greg Foster, high jumper Tamara Bykova - but tonight at Madison Square Garden, spectators literally will look up at the stars.

Bubka, the best ever outdoors with jumps of 19 feet 8 1/4 inches and 19-6 1/4, is chasing Billy Olson, who jumped a world-record 19-5 1/2 indoors at the Meadowlands last week, hours after Bubka cleared 19-5 at Moscow.

And chasing both is Joe Dial, who held the indoor record of 19-4 3/4 for one week until Bubka and Olson pulled off their daily double.

It's a showdown in the skies. Instead of 20 paces, it might be 20 feet.

"I think the record will be broken twice Friday night," Dial said. "I'm sure that Bubka will break it. But I plan to come out on top anyway."

Olson, who has set the indoor record four times this year, has yet to beat Bubka in five meetings. Bubka, who has set the indoor record twice, lost once to Dial in 1984.

"This the first time I feel I'm capable of beating Bubka - honestly," Olson said.

Bubka said this week that Olson and Dial are reaching their limits, but he is just starting to reach his potential. He predicted someone - preferably him - will jump anywhere from 20-8 to 21-4.

"In the last two years, as methods have improved for outdoor arenas, I have persuaded my teammates that it is possible to go higher and higher," Bubka said Wednesday through a translator. "I believe the pyschological barrier has been broken. Progression is only natural."

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