IAAF ARTICLE: World Long Jump record celebrates 20th anniversary
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Daegu, Korea - Some say that across
all disciplines it is the greatest ever competition that has taken
place in the history of the IAAF World Championships but whatever your opinion there is certainly no forgetting the Men’s Long Jump Final which took place on 30 August 1991 at the 3rd edition of the IAAF World championships in Tokyo, Japan.
the Mexico Olympics of 1968 the World Long Jump record for the event
had stood to Bob Beamon at 8.90m. It was a mark that had attained almost
mythical proportions in the minds of all jumpers, a statistic which in
many ways transcended not just the event but the sport itself, a
distance that most sports fans knew whether they were track and field
fans or not, a dead cert inclusion in every sports quiz. The adjective
"Beamonesque” had become established sports jargon for legendary feats.
The World Championships Final in Tokyo in essence was to come down to a two man duel.
Lewis of the USA, unbeaten at that point since 1981, had won the
previous two World titles at the Long Jump and was already half way
towards his career record of four Olympic gold medals at the event. He
had for years peppered the sand pits of the world with close attempts at
Beamon’s record with a wind legal best of 8.79m prior to Tokyo.
teammate Mike Powell, the 1988 Olympic silver medallist came into the
competition with a wind legal best of 8.66m, some way off from his
compatriot, and along with the third member of the US squad, Larry
Myricks, was a favourite to be on the podium in Tokyo.
the qualification round (Aug 29) Lewis was flying, a large foul in the
8.80 region, was followed up with a legal 8.56, the best qualifying mark
at a championships ever.
immediately got up full steam in the final (30) with a first round 8.68,
a championship record, but fouled in the second having witnessed
Powell, who had started with a lowly 7.85, move close to his lead with a
wind legal 8.54.
Mike Powell jumps 8.95m World record
in Tokyo on 30 August 1991
Lewis, after his second
round hiccup, got back into stride and in the next four rounds was to
produce a very special series. The god’s were not in Lewis’ favour
however as his third round personal best of 8.83 was windy. Further
disappointment was to come in the fourth as when ‘8.91m’ registered on
the scoreboard, the joyful realisation that Beamon’s mark had at last
been surpassed was tempered by the wind reading which showed 2.9 m/s
(the legal limit for records being 2m/s).
the two-time defending champion had a lot to be pleased about. He was
in the form of his life, and leading the competition by 37cm he seemed
to be sailing to expected victory.
Powell, who in the fourth round had had a long foul in the region of
8.80, was by no means beaten. In the next round, the Philadelphia born
jumper, in wind conditions which were now virtually still, met up with
his sporting destiny breaking the sand at 8.95m (0.3m/s). Beamon’s
23-year-old record had been rubbed out by 5 centimetres, and Powell’s
euphoric celebrations as he sped down the track at lightning speed would
probably have set a record in itself if there had been a timing system
What Lewis was thinking
about at that moment is anyone’s guess. He’d leapt further than ever
before in his life, but the record he had sought ever since he had first
become World champion in 1983 had been snatched away, and now he risked
losing his World title. In one jump Lewis’ world had changed.
jumping in order after Powell, Lewis still had two attempts remaining
and so all was not lost, and, in a situation which would have
psychologically crushed lesser men, showing the spirit of a great
champion he responded well, launching two wind legal efforts at the new
World record which landed close at 8.87 and 8.84.
Powell, silver Lewis, and Myricks who took the bronze, thanks to an
8.42 leap did so in that magical fifth round with had witnessed Powell’s
World record and Lewis’ 8.87 response.
Powell was modest in his reaction having expected Lewis to have come
back to win the title even after his 8.95: "I thought he would jump nine
Lewis summed-up the extraordinary competition: "It was a great competition for me, and even greater for Mike.”
30 August 1991, a date which will never be forgotten by any true track and field fan.
IAAF Editorial Senior Manager
The men’s Long Jump qualification at the IAAF World Championships, Daegu 2011 takes place on the morning of Thursday 1 September (Day 6), with theFinal being contested on the evening of Friday 2 September (Day 7).