(1974 - )
Alex Averbukh was born on October 1, 1974, in Irkutsk,
Siberia. Averbukh was the Russian decathlon champion and won the European-under
23 decathlon championships in 1997. The following year, he decided to
concentrate on the pole vault, his favorite event. In May 1999, Alex
made Aliyah and quickly broke the Israeli national record with a vault
of 5.80 (the old mark was 5.76) He later said, "I have a strong
sense of Jewish identity. I feel very good about being in Israel. And
this has been reflected in my performances."
In August of that year, Alex made the final at the
World Championships; fellow Israeli Danny Krasnov also made the final,
making them the first Israeli duo to reach the same final at the Worlds.
In the final, Alex captured the bronze medal, becoming the first Israeli
to ever medal at the competition. He said of his accomplishment, "I
understand that my achievement in Spain (the competition was held in
Seville) has brought a lot of pleasure to Israel, and that makes me
On March 8, 2000, Averbukh became an Israeli citizen
and claimed the gold medal at the European Indoor Championship. He won
the Israel Athletic Championships with a new national record (5.85 meters).
He then won the gold medal at the Maccabiah Games (setting a Games record
of 18'4-1/2") and the silver at the 2001 World Championships with
a vault of 5.85-meters. This was the highest finish achieved by an Israeli
athlete at the World Championships (Alex had previously won the bronze
Later, he was a member of Israel's track and field
team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
In 2002, Averbukh took the gold medal in the men's
pole vault at the European Championships, the first time in the competition's
history that an Israeli athlete ever won a gold. The Championships were
held in Munich, Germany and Averbukh's victory came almost 30 years
after the attack by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics
that killed 11 Israelis. Following his historic victory, Averbukh said,
"I dedicate this medal to my father [who died in December, 2001]
and to the people of Israel. I want to give a little present to the
Israeli people because the news from there is not so good."
After the European Championships, Alex finished second
at the IAAF Grand Prix Finals in Paris and was ranked No. 4 in the world
at the end of 2002. In 2003, Averbukh continued to be one of the top
pole vaulters in the world and was ranked No. 1 during the summer. However,
he was dogged by injuries for much of the second half of the year, and
did not get past the preliminaries at the World Indoor Championships.
He also did not qualify for the World Outdoor Championships. Nevertheless,
Alex broke his own national record at the Madrid Super Grand Prix with
a height of 5.93-meters (19'-5 1/2") in July 2003.
In June 2004, Averbukh made the highest successful
jump in Europe to that point — 5.85 meters. He won the prestigious
Rome tournament in early July, as he beat his closest competitor, Richard
Spielburg of Germany, by a narrow tie-breaking jump over a 5.67 meter
bar. In July 5, Averbukh was back in Israel for the National Championship
which he won easily with a 5.70 meter jump. He competed, and won, another
Golden League competition in Paris on July 24, this time he managed
an impressive 5.75 meters. On July 27, at the Stockholm Grand Prix,
Alex failed to clear the bar as he opened at a presumptuous 5.65.
The No. 10 ranked pole vaulter in the world as of August
5, 2004 (he was ranked No. 1 in July 2003), Averbukh entered the 2004
Athens Olympic Games with high hopes for a medal. After finishing fifth
in his preliminary group with a height of 5.65-meters, he advanced to
the finals and finished in tenth place (5.50-meters).
Sources: Jews In