(Nike via AP) 

Shoe designer Tinker Hatfield was the primary designer with Michael Jordan on his signature basketball shoe for decades. In Rio,  French pole vault record holder Renaud Lavillenie is the beneficiary of Hatfield’s services.

Lavillenie will compete in Nike’s pole vaulting shoe designed by Hatfield and his brother Tobie _ their first project working together.

Tinker is the artistic mind while Tobie is more mechanical in design. Both are former pole vaulters, and are in Rio with plans to watch Lavillenie.

Lavillenie will be competing in the Nike Zoom PV III. The Hatfields started working on Nike’s lone pole-vault specific spike in 2001.

“I don’t know that Nike has it on their list as a must-have, but we felt like it was something that needed to be done,” said Tinker, who first started working with Jordan on the third edition of his shoe in 1988.  “It’s turned out to be a good move.

“In my lifetime we went from everyone wearing Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars to a myriad of different kinds of basketball shoes that work for different kinds of players. Track and Field is just not quite as big and powerful of a sport and the need for differentiation is just now being recognized at the highest level, just like basketball. It’s just taken a little longer, that’s all.”

Tobie added, “Pole vaulters before the pole vaulting shoe wore, basically, long-jump spikes and triple-jump spikes. There’s definitely quite a bit of difference between those events and the pole vault. Being former pole vaulters, we knew there was a need out there. We wanted to do this for the vaulters because it was meeting that need.”