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1960s / Bob Beamon Shatters Long Jump Record
Back in 2007 I posted another video on this topic, but this one is much better in quality--and substance. To me this clip shows the greatest single individual accomplishment in the history of sports: Bob Beamon obliterating the world record for the long jump in 1968. Going into the Mexico City Olympics, Bob Beamon was having a bad year on the international athletics circuit. His teammate, Ralph Boston, was thought to be the best hope for the USA to win the gold medal in the long jump. That all changed on the first jump of the finals. Beamon executed a technically flawless leap and seemed to accelerate in mid air. When he landed there was a problem: Beamon had surpassed the officials' ability to measure the jump with the equipment they had available. The existing world record was 27 feet 4.75 inches. During the tense time when everyone was waiting for a measurement, Boston told Beamon, "Bob, I think it's past 29 feet." Incredulous, Beamon replied, "What happened to 28 feet?" After an agonizingly long delay because an old-fashioned tape measure had to be found, Beamon's jump was measured at 8.90 meters. That's 29 feet 2.5 inches. Beamon had surpassed the old mark by 21.75 inches. To put that into proper perspective, in the previous 32 years the world record for the long jump had advanced only eight inches. Beamon started to celebrate but was quickly overcome by the enormity of what he had done. He collapsed on the infield and wept uncontrollably; his body became limp like a rag doll. Some people credit Beamon's leap to the high altitude of Mexico City, but if that were the case it would have helped the other jumpers too. No one else even came close to the old world record! Beamon's record stood for nearly 23 years. Although it was broken by Mike Powell in 1991, Beamon's jaw-dropping achievement is a testament to untapped human potential.