Event Feature: Long Jump

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Mike Powell still holds the World RecordVery few events have been almost completely dominated by one nation in the way that the USA has held a grip on the Men's Long Jump. Let's begin with a few stats...

  • Of the 25 Olympics Games attended by the United States, they have taken away the Gold in 21 (84%).
  • A total of 45 Olympic medals have been won from 75 available (60%).
  • The US Men's team has taken a clean sweep of the medals on 4 occasions (1896, 1904, 1988 and 1992).
  • 6 of the top 7 jumpers of all-time are American.
  • 18 World Records have been set in the Men's Long Jump - 13 of these have been by Americans (72%).
  • Since 1923, US Men have held the World Record for the Long Jump for 79 out of the 89 years that have passed.

When it comes to the Long Jump, few can think of the event without recalling the performances of US athletes at two incredible global championships. Firstly, Bob Beamon's staggering achievement in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico when he broke the World Record mark by 55cm (nearly 2-feet) by leaping 8.90m (29' 2 3/8") for a stunning victory.

Secondly, the unforgettable Mike Powell against Carl Lewis clash at the 1991 World Championships at Tokyo... Powell broke the World Record to win gold with 8.95m (29' 4 3/8") and, although Lewis also surpassed Beamon's previous mark, it was Powell who took gold on this occasion. Lewis won four consecutive Olympic golds in the Long Jump from 1984 to 1996. Other Long Jump heroes include ex-world record holders and Olympic champions Jesse Owens and Ralph Boston, while Dwight Phillips is still going strong at the age of 34 and is the 4-time World champion outdoors (2003, 2005, 2009, 2011).

Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the US Women's Long Jumpers have also enjoyed success on the global stage with the phenomenal Heptathlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee equalling the World Record in 1987 with 7.45m (24' 5 5/16"). Strangely, however she is still the only US woman to hold the world's best mark since records began in 1922 and also the only US Olympic champion ever in the Long Jump (1988 in Seoul). 'JJK' sits at number two in the all-time list (7.49m, 24' 6 7/8") with Marion Jones also making the Top 10 in 10th place (7.31m, 23' 11 13/16').

Brittney Reese (25) has taken the Long Jump world by storm in recent years. She is the current 2012 world leader with 7.12m outdoors and jumped a huge 7.23m in March 2012 to win the World Indoor title and rank her 3rd on the all-time indoor lists. Reese has also won two outdoor World Championships (2009 and 2011) as well as the World Indoor crown (again) in 2009.

With great young jumpers coming through such as Will Claye (21 later this month) and Tori Bowie (21), the future of US Long Jumping seems to be in safe hands and there will certainly be a number of future World and Olympic Champions produced by the most successful ever athletics nation.

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