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John Pennel

Inducted: 2004, athlete

Born: July 25, 1940 - Memphis, Tennessee
Deceased: September 26, 1993

Events
Pole Vault - 5.44 m


The first man ever to clear 17 feet in the pole vault, John Pennel is recognized as one of the greatest pole vaulters of all time. Pennel broke the 17-foot barrier using a fiberglass pole when most competitors were still using wooden poles. His world record was a clearance of 5.20m/17 feet, 0.75 inch, on August 24, 1963 in Miami, Florida. Pennel was later passed by both Fred Hansen and Bob Seagren before he reclaimed the world record in 1968 with a clearance of 5.44m/17-10.25, a standard that lasted until 1973. A two-time Olympic pole vault finalist (1964, 1968), Pennel was the favorite in 1964, but pain from a slipped disc caused him to finish 11th. The 1965 USA pole vault champion, Pennel held the world and U.S. outdoor pole vault record on numerous occasions, and was a two-time world and U.S. indoor record holder. He was world ranked seven times (#1 two times) and won the prestigious AAU Sullivan Award in 1965 as the nation's outstanding amateur athlete. He retired shortly after placing fifth at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Pennel died of cancer.

Records Held
World Record: Pole Vault - 4.95 m (March 23, 1963 - )
World Record: Pole Vault - 4.98 m (April 10, 1963 - )
World Record: Pole Vault - 5.05 m (April 30, 1963 - )
World Record: Pole Vault - 5.10 m (July 13, 1963 - )
World Record: Pole Vault - 5.10 m (July 26, 1963 - )
World Record: Pole Vault - 5.13 m (August 8, 1963 - )
World Record: Pole Vault - 5.20 m (August 24, 1963 - )
World Record: Pole Vault - 5.34 m (July 23, 1966 - )
World Record: Pole Vault - 5.44 m (June 21, 1969 - )

Championships
1964 Olympic Games: Pole Vault (11th)
1968 Olympic Games: Pole Vault (5th)
1968 Olympic Games: Pole Vault (5th)
1965 USA Outdoor Championships: Pole Vault - 5.18 m (1st)

Education
undergraduate: Northeast Louisiana (Monroe, Louisiana), 1963

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