Road To The Olympic Games

Pole vault legend Bubka retires

Pole vault legend Sergei Bubka will end his illustrious career Sunday at a meet in his Ukrainian home town of Donetsk, a German pole vaulter who received an invitation to compete said Wednesday.

Bubka, the 1988 Olympic champion and world-record holder, wants to leap for the final time in the company of some of the world's top pole vaulters, Germany's Michael Stolle said.

"I was overjoyed at this invitation. I'm honored to be at Sergei's final meet," said Stolle, fourth at last year's Olympics and a friend who trained with Bubka in Berlin.

Bubka, 37, is considered the greatest pole vaulter ever.

He had announced he was retiring after the Sydney Olympics.

According to Stolle, 1992 Olympic champion and Sydney bronze medallist Maxim Tarasov and South Africa's Brits Okkerts have also received invitations to compete.

Bubka has soared over six metres (19 feet 8 1/4 inches) 43 times in his career, breaking his own world record regularly as he became one of track's biggest names.

He owns both the indoor world record of 6.14m (20-2 1/4) and the outdoor record of 6.15 (20-1 3/4).

"He is Jordanesque in the sense that he is the greatest," said American vaulter Jeff Hartwig, comparing Bubka to retired basketball superstar Michael Jordan in 1999.