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The greatest jump at Mexico City Olympics 68

Friday, October 18, 1968, Mexico City, the seventh day of the XIX Olympic Games, a cold and windy afternoon that heralds the arrival of a thunderstorm. It's 15.45 when 22-year-old jumper Robert Bob Beamon shows up on the athletics track for his first attempt in the long jump final. The young African-American jumper Bob Beamon born and raised in Queens is the favorite for the gold medal thanks to a personal record of 8.33 meters (compared to a world record of 8.35) and twenty-two victories out of twenty-three races in which Bob Beamon participated in the year. Yet Bob Beamon struggled to qualify for the final, with two mistakes that could have forever compromised his participation in the Games.
Bob Beamon in action
So, the night before the Olympic final, Bob Beamon is nervous and decides to go out and relax a bit, even with the help of a few glasses of tequila and his lover's company, while his wife looks for him all over the city - or, at least, so the legend says. At 3.45 p.m. on 18 October he was tense, probably a little dazed because of the alcohol and the little sleep of the night before, but certainly concentrated. It is the fourth on the list, and the three athletes who preceded him (the Japanese Yamada, the Jamaican Brooks, and the Western German Bascher) have all failed the jump because of the wind.
The platform and the landing on the sand in the long jump
Not so for Bob Beamon, who is a millimeter away and arches perfectly falling back on the platform after a very long flight: you can immediately guess that it is a big jump, but no one immediately understands how big it is. At least not before the judges, as incredulous as he is, realize that the new mechanical meter with which they have to measure it is too short (it reaches a maximum of 8.53 meters, which was thought to be sufficient, given and considered that the world record is 8.35) and that an emergency band is provided to assess it.
Long jump dynamics
Thus, several minutes pass before the incredible official measurement of 8.90 meters appears on the scoreboard. Bob Beamon himself remains bashful and does not immediately realize what he has done, also because he is confused by the metric system decimal.

It's his teammate Ralph Boston who explains to him that he has jumped something like 29 feet: it's only at that point that Beamon understands the value of his feet and begins to dance and jump, then hug his friend and collapse to his knees. It seems he is hit by a real cataplectic shock - and kisses the ground just a few seconds before a violent storm breaks out and it starts to get cold.

Bob Beamon and a destroyed record

Sand landing in the long jump
In athletics records are beaten for a few hundredths of a second or a few inches, and any slight improvement costs time and effort: usually, these are retouches and you must wait years for significant increases. Then there are the exceptions. Those where records disintegrate. Those like the impossible jump of Bob Beamon. A jump with which the athlete won the gold medal at the Olympics in Mexico City (also famous for the closed fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium of 200 meters flat), improving the existing record of 55 centimeters.
Jumping dynamics in motion
A length that lasted for more than twenty years: it was only surpassed on August 30, 1991, when Carl Lewis, first, and Mike Powell, then, jumped 8.91 and 8.95 meters respectively at the World Championships in Tokyo. Before Bob Beamon's jump, listed by the magazine "Sports Illustrated" as one of the five greatest sporting moments of the twentieth century, the world record had been improved thirteen times since 1901, with an average increase of 6 centimeters and more than 15. After the feat, the outgoing Olympic champion, British Lynn Davies, told Bob Beamon: You destroyed this specialty, while Soviet Igor Ter-Ovanesjan, who, together with American Ralph Boston had held the previous world record, declared then: In comparison to this jump, the rest of us make the figure of children.
The exceptionality of the event is also testified by the fact that, since then, the adjective "Beamonesque" has been used to indicate a spectacular feat in the world of athletics. Fifty years later, Bob Beamon's jump is still the current Olympic record (the longest-lived among the current ones) and the second best world performance of all time.

A feat never repeated again

Athlete lands in the sand
The result of Mexico City remains, however, a unique achievement in Bob Beamon's career, an exploit that he is no longer able to replicate and that probably becomes an obsession for him, when, soon, Bob Beamon realizes that he will no longer be able to repeat himself.
Initially Bob Beamon managed to overcome it, thanks to a quantity of money that he had never even dreamed of having and with which he took away many delights, such as the seven televisions, the thirty-two pairs of shoes and the pink Cadillac that he buys when he returns home, before resuming training for the next Olympic Games.

Bob Beamon graduated, however, in sociology, thus committing himself, for the rest of his career, in the promotion of sport among young people, also working with the Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But something has broken and no longer works, like the right foot that allowed him to fly in Mexico and now he can no longer use. Thus, Bob Beamon lacks qualification for trials and participation in the 1972 Munich Olympics. He still competes for a few years, but without ever being able to get close to his record (the best jump after Mexico City is 8.22 meters). He graduated, however, in sociology, thus committing himself, for the rest of his career, in the promotion of sport among young people, also working with the Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger.
He returned to Mexico City in 1979, on the Universiade, thus finding himself telling the press the details of his incredible feat ten years later. A moment that, as Beamon himself said, still finds itself dreaming today and every time he seems to relive the feeling felt in those short moments: that of being in paradise.

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