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Athletics at the 1968 Ciudad de México Summer Games:

Men's Long Jump

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Host City: Ciudad de México, Mexico
Venue(s): University Olympic Stadium, Ciudad de México
Date Started: October 17, 1968
Date Finished: October 18, 1968

Gold: USA Bob Beamon
Silver: GDR Klaus Beer
Bronze: USA Ralph Boston

Summary

Going into 1968 the big three were Ralph Boston, 1960 gold medalist; Lynn Davies, 1964 gold medalist and 1966 European and Commonwealth champion; and Igor Ter-Ovanesyan, bronze medalist in 1960-64 and, with Boston, the current world record holder. But during the 1968 season a new talent had arisen, Bob Beamon, who was undefeated in pre-Olympic competition. The thin air of Ciudad de México was expected to produce big jumps, and it did, but nobody was prepared for what was to come. In the qualifying Boston set an Olympic record with 8.27 (27-1¾). The fourth jumper in the final was Beamon, and he had no marks to aim at as the first three jumpers had fouled. Beamon tore down the runway, hit the takeoff board perfectly, and took off, reaching a huge height. He came down hard and bounded out of the pit. Watching, Boston commented to Davis, “That’s over 28 feet,” but Davies felt that was not possible. Boston was actually conservative. The jump was over 29 feet – 29-2½ or 8.90, to be exact. The world record, held by Boston and Ter-O was 8.35, or 27-4¾. Thus Beamon had surpassed it by almost two feet. It was the largest single improvement in a track & field world record ever, and stunning athletic feats since that date are often labeled “Beamonesque.” The mark was so spectacular that a book was written about this single athletic moment, called The Perfect Jump, written by Dick Schapp in collaboration with Beamon.

The competition was over. Davies told Boston, “We can’t go on. We’d look silly.” Ter-Ovanesyan commented to Davies, “Compared to this jump, we are children.” After the jump, Beamon was not really sure what he had accomplished, not understanding the metric measurement. But when he was told it was 29-2½, he collapsed to his knees and became dizzy, having to be helped up by Boston and teammates Charlie Mays.

Eventually the long jump went on. Boston completed his medal set by winning a bronze. The great trivia question is the identity of the silver medalist – Klaus Beer of East Germany. Beamon took one more jump, 8.04 (26-4½), then passed his final four rounds, as they were not necessary. Lynn Davies tied for eighth after three jumps, and was mistakenly not advanced to the final three rounds of jumps. When officials realized what had happened, they offered him three more jumps. He refused, shattered by what he had seen. There have been naysayers since. The wind reading was 2.0 metres per second, the exact limit of legal, and some observers think the jump may have been wind-aided, but no protests to its legality as a record were ever made. The mark stood up for 23 years, finally bettered in 1991 by Mike Powell, who jumped 8.95 (29-4½) to win the 1991 World Championships. In 2008, it is still the second longest legal jump ever, and still the Olympic record, probably for the foreseeable future as well. Beamon never jumped anywhere near as well again. He never had to.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Bob Beamon 22 United States USA Gold WR
2 Klaus Beer 25 East Germany GDR Silver
3 Ralph Boston 29 United States USA Bronze
4 Igor Ter-Ovanesyan 30 Soviet Union URS
5 Tõnu Lepik 22 Soviet Union URS
6 Allen Crawley 27 Australia AUS
7 Jack Pani 22 France FRA
8 Andrzej Stalmach 26 Poland POL
9 Lynn Davies 26 Great Britain GBR
10 Hiroomi Yamada 26 Japan JPN
11 Leonid Barkovskiy 27 Soviet Union URS
12 Reinhold Boschert 21 West Germany FRG
13 Michael Ahey 28 Ghana GHA
14 Lars-Olof Höök 23 Sweden SWE
15 Victor Brooks 27 Jamaica JAM
16 Gérard Ugolini 19 France FRA
AC r2/2 Charles Mays 27 United States USA
18 QR Pertti Pousi 22 Finland FIN
19 QR Alan Lerwill 21 Great Britain GBR
20 QR Laurent Sarr Senegal SEN
21 QR Galdino Flores 26 Mexico MEX
22 QR Naoki Abe 23 Japan JPN
23 QR Wellesley Clayton 30 Jamaica JAM
24 QR Shinji Ogura 24 Japan JPN
25 QR Philippe Housiaux 20 Belgium BEL
26 QR Michel Charland 23 Canada CAN
27 QR Clément Sagna 26 Senegal SEN
28 QR Su Wen-Ho 22 Chinese Taipei TPE
29 QR Anthony Chong 27 Malaysia MAS
30 QR Jerry Wisdom 20 Bahamas BAH
31 QR Chen Ming-Chi 21 Chinese Taipei TPE
32 QR Don Vélez 20 Nicaragua NCA
33 QR Jean Cochard 29 France FRA
34 QR Owen Meighan 24 Belize BIZ
AC QR Peter Reed 25 Great Britain GBR