Cornelius Warmerdam

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Cornelius Anthony "Dutch" Warmerdam (born June 22, 1915 in Long Beach , California , † November 13, 2001 in Fresno ) was an American pole vaulter who was successful during the Second World War. The nickname "Dutch" refers to his origins: his parents were Dutch immigrants. Warmerdam set a total of seven world records.


The Olympic champion of 1940 and 1944 could only have been named Cornelius Warmerdam - if these games had not been canceled because of the events of the war. This exceptional athlete “only” has the fame of having set seven pole vault world records, the last of which lasted for fifteen years. Warmerdam was the first to use his bamboo stick to climb the long-believed impregnable height of 15 feet, and he jumped that height 43 more times before any other jumper made it even once. He even skipped them in his last competition, the US championships in 1944. Between 1937 (first win of the US championship) and 1944 (end of career) he suffered only two defeats: 1939 at the US championship and 1938 in Dresden . The defeat in Dresden got through the press worldwide because it was connected with a curiosity: in anticipation of the certain victory of Warmerdam, a valuable honorary award had been donated especially for him. He started the competition at 4.00 m and tore that height three times. However, since Wolfgang Hartmann from Breslau (second in the German championships in 1938) had mastered 3.80 m beforehand, the Warmerdam award went to the German.


Cornelius Warmerdam grew up in Kings County , California , where he attended Hardwick Elementary School . He started pole vaulting at the age of 12. A broken tree branch served as a jump pole, and a raised sand hill served as a “landing cushion”. In his first competition, which he competed in 1932 as a student at Hanford High School , he finished third with a few others. He later started for the Bulldogs of State College in Fresno , where a best performance of 14 '1 ¾' 'is recorded for him, and finally moved to the Olympic Club in San Francisco . In the following years he won the US championship nine times (7 outdoor and 2 indoor titles).

Between 1940 and 1942 he set seven world records. On April 13, 1940, he became the first person to cross the 15-foot limit in Berkeley (15 feet equals 4,572 m). This meant an improvement on the world record set by Earle Meadows on May 29, 1937 in Los Angeles of 4.54 m by 3 centimeters. He mastered the altitude on the second try. He completed a total of eleven jumps in this competition: 3.81 m (1), 3.96 m (1), 4.11 m (1), 4.19 m (1), 4.26 m (1), 4th , 32 m (1), 4.39 m (2), 4.48 m (1) and 4.57 m (2).

In the following two years, he increased his record by a total of 20 centimeters. On May 23, 1942 in Modesto he set his last world record with 15 '7 ¾' '(4.77 m), which was only broken 15 years later by his compatriot Bob Gutowski - with a steel rod. The indoor best performance of 15 '8 ½' '(4.78 m) he set up in Chicago on March 20, 1943, lasted for 16 years.

Cornelius Warmerdam was extremely popular. His fans formed clubs called "Admirers of Warmerdam" (admirers of W.) and expressed their sympathy by storming jumps, where after every successful attempt by their idol they smashed the bar in front of the stunned judges Took pieces as souvenirs.

Warmerdam himself regretted that, due to external circumstances, he never had the chance to become Olympic champion. In 1944/45 he served in the Navy. After the war he became a trainer at Fresno University. He was therefore considered a "professional" and would not have been able to take part in the 1948 Games in London anyway.

He coined the phrase "Pole vaulters are not born, they are made."

Cornelius Warmerdam died of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 86 . He left five children.


  • 1942: Warmerdam receives the Sullivan Award as the best American amateur athlete .
  • 1955 Warmerdam is named “ Greatest field athlete of all time ” in a UPI survey . He responded with the words: "Well, maybe in my era" (Well, maybe I was in my active time).
  • 1976: The University of Fresno built a sports facility named after him ("Warmerdam Field").
  • 2000: In the election for the "American Pole Vaulter of the Century" at the Sparks Convention Center in Reno, with the participation of more than a thousand pole vaulters and coaches, this honorary title is awarded in four categories: fiberglass rod ( Bob Seagren ), steel rod ( Bob Richards ), bamboo and open Category. Cornelius Warmerdam is awarded the title in the latter two categories.
  • 2014: Induction into the IAAF Hall of Fame

World records in the open air

World records hall

  • 4.42 m (February 11, 1939 in Boston )
  • 4,485 m (February 7, 1942 in New York )
  • 4.58 m (February 7, 1942 in New York)
  • 4.62 m (February 14, 1942 in Boston )
  • 4,755 m (February 14, 1942 in Boston )
  • 4.79 m (March 20, 1943 in Chicago ; only improved to 4.81 m in 1959 by Don Bragg )

Performance development

year 1929 1930 1931 1932 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1952
Height (m) 2.74 3.05 3.32 3.73 3.96 4.19 4.26 4.46 4.46 4.37 4.60 WR 4.72 WR 4.77 WR 4.79 HWR 4.37

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