Olympic long jump competitions have been won by famous sprinters, such as Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis, by multi-talented athletes such as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and by long jump specialists, including Bob Beamon. The variety of performers have often added extra drama to this high-flying event.
1. 1968 - Beamon's miracle jumpIn 1968, the silver and bronze medalists inched by Ralph Boston's record of 26 feet, 7¾ inches; gold medalist Bob Beamon flew past it. Beamon, however, almost didn't make the final. He fouled on his first two qualifying jumps and was one jump away from elimination. Boston - the eventual bronze-medal winner - advised Beamon to play it safe on his final jump. Beamon took his advice and qualified. Beamon's next jump, in the final, shook the track and field world. He out-jumped the optical measuring device, so officials brought out a steel tape. The wait was well worth it when Beamon's world record of 29-2½ was announced.
2. 1980 - Kolpakova leaps to goldThe Moscow Olympic Games had its highlights, despite the American-led boycott, and the women’s high jump was certainly one of the best. Tetyana Skachko of the Soviet Union entered the final round with the lead courtesy of a then-Olympic record leap measuring 23 feet. But two of her competitors flew past her in the final round. First, Tatyana Kolpakova, also of the Soviet Union, beat her personal best by nine inches by leaping 23-2 (7.06 meters). The two leaders were then challenged by East Germany’s Brigitte Wujak, who fell two centimeters shy of the lead and settled for silver after jumping 23-1¼.
3. 1988 - Lewis wins second of four goldsCarl Lewis earned nine gold medals – four in the long jump, two in the 100-meter dash, one in the 200 and two in the 4 x 100 relay. In 1988, Lewis won a gold in the 100 and a silver in the 200. The long jump final began about 55 minutes after Lewis ran a preliminary heat in the 200, and the American was scheduled to jump first. Lewis requested a change in the jumping order and was moved to the 12th and final spot. In the fourth round a new official returned Lewis to the first spot. A malfunctioning clock gave Lewis a few minutes of rest, then he produced his winning jump of 28 feet, 7-¼ inches (8.72 meters). Lewis’ top four jumps that day were all good enough to win as he captured the second of his four consecutive long jump gold medals.