Thierry Vigneron (born March 9, 1960 in Gennevilliers, Hauts-de-Seine) is a retired French pole vaulter….who in the 1980’s was among the world’s leading pole vaulters. He broke the world record in the event four times….and was the last man to hold the world record (for less than 24 hours in August 1984) before Russian Sergey Bubka….who would hold on to it until February 2014.
Vigneron burst onto the world stage by unexpectedly beating the 5.72 m outdoor world record of Poland’s Władysław Kozakiewicz with a jump of 5.75 m on June 1, 1980. Vigneron equaled his own outdoor world record of 5.75 m on June 29, 1980. Although Vigneron lost his outdoor world record to another Frenchman, Philippe Houvion, on July 17, 1980, he was one of the favorites at the 1980 Summer Olympics. However, Vigneron could not rise to the challenge….finishing in 7th position at 5.45 m. The 1980 Olympics pole vault title was won by Kozakiewicz….who also reclaimed the outdoor world record from Houvion with a jump of 5.78 m in that Olympic final. On June 20, 1981, Vigneron reclaimed the outdoor world record with a 5.80 m jump….only to lose it to the Soviet Union’s Vladimir Polyakov six days later. After yet another Frenchman, Pierre Quinon, raised the outdoor world record to 5.82 m on August 28, 1983….Vigneron vaulted to another outdoor world record again with 5.83 m on September 1, 1983. This record remained unbeaten until May 26, 1984 when Sergey Bubka cleared 5.85 m just weeks before the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, in which Vigneron took the bronze medal while Bubka was absent due to the Soviet-led boycott. On Aug 31, 1984, less than three weeks after the 1984 Olympics had ended….Bubka beat Vigneron in a memorable contest in Rome….in which the Frenchman briefly retook the outdoor world record with 5.91 m and the Ukrainian cleared 5.94 m immediately afterwards. It was the last time until 2014 that anyone other than Bubka held the outdoor world record.