A Leap of Faith - Why the Long Jump Deserves More Love
We're shining a spotlight on the amazing, technical wonders that are achieved in the field events. Learn what it takes to set the Long Jump Olympic Record.
This event is less of a jump, more of a flight plan. You start on a runway and attempt to gain as much speed as possible, under complete control without decelerating.
At top speed, you must methodically sense the takeoff board underfoot while not stepping over it. Just like a jet, you takeoff, lifting your entire body into the air while tucking your legs into a pike position during the flight phase.
Then you skillfully land as far as possible in a sand pit to make the farthest possible mark in the sand with your body. The best jumpers take a single leap that is equivalent to jumping from the top of an NBA three-point line to the baseline. You know, the one behind the basket, where the photographers sit.
All the while during this landing, jumpers withstand an impact with forces up to 10 times their body weight.
How the Long Jump is Measured
The distance is measured from the take off board to the first mark in the sand closest to the board. Now do this again and again (unless you’ve gotten a mark you’re sure your opponents won’t match), until everyone has come crashing back to earth 3 times. The farthest first mark wins.
Even Jordon’s got nothing on their flight skills.
Men’s Long Jump Olympic Record
29 feet, 2 inches – 8.90 meters
Bob Beamon, United States 1968
About nine months before a man landed on the moon, Bob Beamon made one very giant leap at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City. Prior to this jump, the record stood at 27 feet 4 and ¾ inches – 8.35 meters.
Beamon’s record shattering jump increased it by a staggering 21 and ¾ inches. In long-jumping terms, that was equivalent to reducing the winning marathon time by 30 minutes or the 100 meter sprint by a full second! At 29 feet, 2 inches, his long jump olympic record still stands more than 50 years later.
Women's Long Jump Olympic Record
24 feet, 3 inches – 7.40 meters
Jackie Joyner-Kersee, United States 1988.
A field event list would not be complete with the crowned and confirmed “Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century.” Only six other track and field athletes in history have felt the weight of six Olympic medals around their necks.
For her performance in the 1988 games in Seoul, Jackie Joyner-Kersee won not one but two medals – one being the long jump olympic record, the other in the heptathlon. Oh, and she also broke the world record in both events…with an injured knee. She’s the OG first lady of track and field.
If you would like to learn the most effective system for training and coaching elite long jump technique, check out Janay DeLoach Soukup's masterclass, Jumping Smarter, Jumping Farther.