If man were meant to fly, he would have been given wings. Or been named Sergei Bubka.

The Soviet Superman soared up and almost away again on Sunday as he broke the world pole vault record for the ninth time with a 19-foot-101/2 vault at the Nikaia Grand Prix Track Meet.He bettered his own mark of 19-101/4 which he set in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia last month.

The 24 year-old Soviet made an assault on the 20-foot barrier but didn't come close. However, when he cleared the record, he looked about two inches over the bar.

"The 20-foot vault will come very soon," Bubka said. "But one world record in a day is enough. Two is too much."

Two records in a day is too much, but Bubka has broken nine since setting his first world record at Bratislava in May, 1984.

He has bettered his world record at least once a year since. He has done it three times in France, his most famous being the 19-61/4 in Paris in 1985.

Bubka knew a record was coming this Sunday night.

"The (19-101/2) - I expected it. I thought about it in my head the day before. it was programmed," Bubka said.

"The heat and the wind had fallen during the day. The weather was just fine," he added. Bubka's mark came shortly after 9 p.m. on a fair summer evening on the French Rivieria.

Bubka cleared the record on only his third vault of the competition although it had been under way for more than two hours.

The three-time world champion was scheduled to go to Barcelona, Spain next for a meet but may bow out.

"I have some soreness in my left leg," Bubka said. "It bothered me before tonight and it bothered me a little as the night went on."

Bubka's mark was the fourth world record this season in field events and the second of the day as East Germany's Gabriele Reinsch set a women's world discuss throw mark in a dual meet between Italy and East Germany.

Bubka's effort overshadowed some fine performances on the track where four seasonal bests were recorded. Said Aouita of Morocco, who owns four world records, was content to win the 1,500 meters in 3 minutes, 32.69 seconds although he felt he could have gone faster.

"I was thinking I would finish in 3:35, but I ended up at 3:32," Aouita said. "If I had known that was that fast, I would have accelerated earlier."

Aouita ran his last lap in under 53 seconds, sprinting only the last 300 yards to win by 25 yards.

In the 3,000-meter steeplechase Peter Koech and Patrick Sang of Kenya ran 1-2, clocking 8:11.61 and 8:12 to head the 1988 list.

In the women's events, Paula Ivan of Romania set the year's top mark in the 1,500 at 4:00.16, while Britain's Yvonne Murray clocked a 8:37.22 in the 3,000, another 1988 best.