An established field event in modern athletic championships and the Olympic Games, with origins in the ancient Olympic Games in Greece; it is in many respects one of the most fundamental of sports, needing no equipment and having a fundamentally simplistic competitive character. In less organized formats, long-jumping challenges have characterized everyday sporting cultures—the challenge of rural workers to leap the longest distance in the fields, of industrial workers to leap the breadth of a canal. This basic appeal of the body in motion and flight, unaided by artificial aids (weights, once allowed to enhance momentum, were banned in the modern mode), has sustained the popularity of the event. It is also an event that has been combined with other events by individual athletes, thus increasing medal tallies: Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games; Carl Lewis at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. The most famous individual achievement in the history of the long jump was, however, US athlete Bob Beaman's leap of 29 feet 2.5 inches (8.90 metres) at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, which improved the world record by 21.5 inches (55 centimetres), more than had been achieved accumulatively over the previous forty years of record-breaking. Beaman's Olympic record still stood forty years later after the Beijing 2008 Olympics, though the US's Mike Powell had achieved a world-record jump of 8.95 metres in Tokyo in 1991. The Olympic men's event has been dominated by the USA, winning 22 out of 27 of the gold medals at the modern Games. The women's long jump was not held until the London 1948 Olympics: no single nation has dominated the event, and South America produced its first women's Olympic champion in an individual event, Brazil's Maurren Higa Maggi (Beijing 2008).
Subjects: Sport and Leisure.