British Olympic Pole Vaulter Smashes Front Teeth During Training in Tokyo

by Josh Lanier

A British pole vaulter may not leave the Tokyo Olympics with a medal, but he is leaving something behind: a tooth. But he says he has the perfect cover story planned.

Harry Coppell was practicing for the upcoming Olympics Wednesday when one of his runs went wrong. Coppell uploaded a video of the incident to his Instagram, as well as the aftermath. For those of you who aren’t fans of dental destruction, you may want to skip the third slide.

Coppell’s first run goes off without a problem. He clears the crossbar and lands on the mat without incident. On his second run, however, things get dicey. Coppell clips the crossbar as he attempts to clear it. After he lands on the mat, the crossbar comes down directly across his mouth. It obliterated one of his front teeth and chipped the other.

The 25-year-old even included slo-mo of when the crossbar smashed his face.

Somehow, he took this all in stride.

“Got some good vaulting done tonight at the @teamgb holding camp! HOWEVER… The bar then fell on my face and messed up all my teeth 🙄😅,” he captioned his post.

“I hope @tokyo2020 has a good dentist around,” he said.

Apparently, this is a somewhat common problem for pole vaulters. United States pole vaulter Sam Kendricks commented on the video “Don’t worry bro, I knocked out 4.”

Coppell kept everyone updated in a later Instagram story, PEOPLE magazine showed.

“All night with the dentist and I have one less tooth 🙄😅,” he wrote. In the photo — again, warning for those who can’t handle tooth issues, a Tokyo dentist removed the worse of the two broken teeth. Most of his other front tooth was still there.

But he said he had a cover story already picked out if anyone asked him what happened to his teeth.

“I’m gonna tell people I was in a bar fight….” he joked in a later Instagram story, PEOPLE said.

The men’s pole vaulting event begins tonight with qualifying rounds. The finals will be on Aug. 3.

Should Tokyo Have Postponed The Games — Again?

Last year, as the pandemic raged across the world, Olympic officials decided to postpone the Tokyo games for a year. A year later, and a new strain of COVID-19 “on steroids” is ravaging the world’s population and has put Tokyo back into the spotlight.

As athletes from across the world come to represent their nations they risk catching it from other athletes and potentially bringing it home with them when the games are over. Some have already caught the infection.

To combat the spread of the virus, Tokyo Olympic officials have barred spectators from attending the events. But if they’re going to these lengths already, why not just postpone again? That’s what legendary NBC sports commentator Bob Costas believes.

“There’s reason to believe that a year from now, the situation would be more under control,” he told Stephen Colbert earlier this week on The Late Show. And not just because of COVID.

“Every athlete draws some sort of adrenaline and emotion from an audience,” he adds. “That’s especially true at the Olympics, which are more about emotion than most sports events are.”