On the 18th of October 1968, at the Mexico Olympics, Bob Beamon stunned the athletics world. In the final of the long jump competition he leapt 8.90 metres (29 feet 2.5 inches). This completely destroyed the previous World record of 8.35 metres by 55cm (21.75 inches)! The 2nd place went to Klaus Beer of East Germany with a jump of 8.19m.
It had taken 61 years for the World record to advance by 55cm to the 8.35 metre record that Beamon shattered, and in the previous 10 years the record had advanced by only 14cm.
I honestly am not sure whether I remember this feat or not. I was 4 and 1/2 at the time, but I do know the Olympics was on all the time in our house, and I have a vague recollection of my father getting very excited about an amazing record being set by someone who had just jumped a very long way 🙂
Prior to Mexico, Beamon himself had not jumped further than 8.33 metres (27 feet 4 inches). The previous Olympics in Tokyo in 1964 had been won by Welshman Lynn Davies with a leap of 8.07 metres. Here is footage of Bob Beamon’s World record leap.
This incredible World record stood for 23 years, until Mike Powell broke it in 1991 with a leap of 8.95 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Tokyo.
Here is a video of Mike Powell breaking Beamon’s record at that championships in Tokyo.
The progress of the long jump World record
|7.61 m (24 ft 11 5⁄8 in)||Peter O’Connor (Ireland)||Dublin||1901-08-05|
|7.69 m (25 ft 2 3⁄4 in)||Edward Gourdin (USA)||Cambridge||1923-07-23|
|7.76 m (25 ft 5 1⁄2 in)||Robert LeGendre (USA)||Paris||1924-07-07|
|7.89 m (25 ft 10 5⁄8 in)||DeHart Hubbard (USA)||Chicago||1925-06-13|
|7.90 m (25 ft 11 in)||Edward Hamm (USA)||Cambridge||1928-07-07|
|7.93 m (26 ft 3⁄16 in)||Sylvio Cator (HAI)||Paris||1928-09-09|
|7.98 m (26 ft 2 3⁄16 in)||Chuhei Nambu (JPN)||Tokyo||1931-10-27|
|8.13 m (26 ft 8 1⁄16 in)||Jesse Owens (USA)||Ann Arbor||1935-05-25|
|8.21 m (26 ft 11 1⁄4 in)||Ralph Boston (USA)||Walnut||1960-08-12|
|8.24 m (27 ft 7⁄16 in)||Ralph Boston (USA)||Modesto||1961-05-27|
|8.28 m (27 ft 2 in)||Ralph Boston (USA)||Moscow||1961-07-16|
|8.31 m (27 ft 3 3⁄16 in)||Igor Ter-Ovanesyan (URS)||Yerevan||1962-06-10|
|8.31 m (27 ft 3 3⁄16 in)||Ralph Boston (USA)||Kingston||1964-08-15|
|8.34 m (27 ft 4 3⁄8 in)||Ralph Boston (USA)||Los Angeles||1964-09-12|
|8.35 m (27 ft 4 3⁄4 in)||Ralph Boston (USA)||Modesto||1965-05-29|
|8.35 m (27 ft 4 3⁄4 in)||Igor Ter-Ovanesyan (URS)||Mexico City||1967-10-19|
|8.90 m (29 ft 2 3⁄8 in)||Bob Beamon (USA)||Mexico City||1968-10-18|
|8.95 m (29 ft 4 3⁄8 in)||Mike Powell (USA)||Tokyo||1991-08-30|