Back in the 1940’s, cotton was king. Though nylon and some other synthetics were on the scene, they weren’t in wide use for clothing – and that was as true for track and field as it was for street clothes. Today’s high jumper, though, usually wears synthetics – mostly forms of nylon and polyester.
Shoes have also evolved. Nylon uppers and synthetic soles weren’t in general use for footwear in the WW II era. Leather and canvas have now given way to nylon and other synthetics, which make for lighter, more breathable shoes. Manufacturers such as Nike and Adidas make shoes specifically for high jumping.
Modern foams and air bags have made high jump pits a much more comfortable proposition… and enabled the development of the “flop” style jump that now predominates in the sport. Early jumpers used the scissors style partly for self-preservation. Landings could be hard.
The use of glass composites and aluminum for crossbars is also a fairly modern innovation.
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