The man pictured is Sergey Bubka, a six consecutive IAAF World Championships winner, an Olympic gold medal winner and a man who broke the world record for men’s pole vault 35 times (17 outdoor and 18 indoor).
But, being at the top for so long, is sometimes not so good money-wise. You see, because Bubka was so dominant, no sponsor was willing to offer the traditional win bonuses that are the bread and butter of professional track and field stars.
Up until Nike came into play. (the article continues after the ad)
Nike offered Bubka a different incentive: world record bonuses. And while sources vary, it is believed that he was earning around $50,000 each time. Given this opportunity, Bubka found a simple yet clever way to make the most out of the contract: Break the record every year by as little as possible. And he literally, took his time. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he gradually inched his way up the six-metre mark. He kept breaking it every year by a small amount just for the reward money. In less than two years between 1991 and 1993, he bested his previous mark an astonishing 14 times!
Bubka got his money. Nike had under its umbrella the No. 1 athlete in pole vault, it was a win-win situation. Now this is a clever fella now, isn’t he?