With exactly one year to go to the men’s Olympic long jump final, we continue our series by looking back on previous action in the event
The men’s long jump final is set to be the first final taking place on the fourth day of athletics action at the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with the event starting at 10:20 local time on Monday August 2, 2021.
With exactly one year to go, we take a look back at past Olympic action.
1896: 1 Ellery Clark USA 6.35; 2 Bob Garrett USA 6.18; 3 James Connolly USA 6.11
1900: 1 Alvin Kraenzlein USA 7.18; 2 Myer Prinstein USA 7.17; 3 Patrick Leahy GBR 6.95
1904: 1 Meyer Prinstein USA 7.34; 2 Daniel Frank USA 6.89; 3 Robert Stangland USA 6.88
1906: 1 Meyer Prinstein USA 7.20; 2 Peter O’Connor GBR 7.02; 3 Hugo Friend USA 6.96
1908: 1 Frank Irons USA 7.48; 2 Dan Kelly USA 7.09; 3 Calvin Bricker CAN 7.08
1912: 1 Albert Gutterson USA 7.60; 2 Calvin Bricker CAN 7.21; 3 Georg Aberg SWE 7.18
1920: 1 William Pettersson SWE 7.15; 2 Carl Johnson USA 7.09; 3 Erik Abrahamsson SWE 7.08
1924: 1 DeHart Hubbard USA 7.44; 2 Edward Gourdin USA 7.27; 3 Sverre Hansen NOR 7.26
1928: 1 Ed Hamm USA 7.73; 2 Silvio Cator HAI 7.58; 3 Alfred Bates USA 7.40
1932: 1 Ed Gordon USA 7.64; 2 Lambert Redd USA 7.60; 3 Chuhei Nambu JPN 7.45
1936: 1 Jesse Owens USA 8.06; 2 Lutz Long GER 7.87; 3 Naoto Tajima JPN 7.74
1948: 1 Willie Steele USA 7.82; 2 Theo Bruce AUS 7.55; 3 Herb Douglas USA 7.54
1952: 1 Jerome Biffle USA 7.57; 2 Meredith Gourdine USA 7.53; 3 Odon Foldessy HUN 7.30
1956: 1 Greg Bell USA 7.83; 2 John Bennett USA 7.68; 3 Jorma Valkama FIN 7.48
1960: 1 Ralph Boston USA 8.12; 2 Bo Roberson USA 8.11; 3 Igor Ter-Ovanesyan URS 8.04
1964: 1 Lynn Davies GBR 8.07; 2 Ralph Boston USA 8.03; 3 Igor Ter-Ovanesyan URS 7.99
1968: 1 Bob Beamon USA 8.90; 2 Klaus Beer GDR 8.19; 3 Ralph Boston USA 8.16
1972: 1 Randy Williams USA 8.24; 2 Hans Baumgartner FRG 8.18; 3 Arnie Robinson USA 8.03
1976: 1 Arnie Robinson USA 8.35; 2 Randy Williams USA 8.11; 3 Frank Wartenberg GDR 8.02
1980: 1 Lutz Dombrowski GDR 8.54; 2 Frank Paschek GDR 8.21; 3 Valeriy Podluzhniy URS 8.13
1984: 1 Carl Lewis USA 8.54; 2 Gary Honey AUS 8.24; 3 Giovanni Evangelisti ITA 8.24
1988: 1 Carl Lewis USA 8.72; 2 Mike Powell USA 8.49; 3 Larry Myricks USA 8.27
1992: 1 Carl Lewis USA 8.67; 2 Mike Powell USA 8.64; 3 Joe Greene USA 8.34
1996: 1 Carl Lewis USA 8.50; 2 James Beckford JAM 8.29; 3 Joe Greene USA 8.24
2000: 1 Ivan Pedroso CUB 8.55; 2 Jai Taurima AUS 8.49; 3 Roman Shchurenko UKR 8.31
2004: 1 Dwight Phillips USA 8.59; 2 John Moffitt USA 8.47; 3 Joan Lino MartÌnez ESP 8.32
2008: 1 Irving Saladino PAN 8.34; 2 Khotso Mokoena RSA 8.24; 3 Ibrahim Camejo CUB 8.20
2012: 1 Greg Rutherford GBR 8.31; 2 Mitchell Watt AUS 8.16; 3 Will Claye USA 8.12
2016: 1 Jeff Henderson USA 8.38; 2 Luvo Manyonga RSA 8.37; 3 Greg Rutherford GBR 8.29
Olympic record: 8.90m Bob Beamon 1968
Multiple champions: Meyer Prinstein 1904/1906, Carl Lewis 1984/1988/1992/1996
The USA’s Jeff Henderson saved his best leap until last and launched himself into the lead with 8.38m to take the title. Although it looked like his team-mate Jarrion Lawson might have soared out to a winning mark on the last jump of the competition, he was denied by a hand in the sand.
Luvo Manyonga’s 8.37m PB secured him the silver as defending champion Greg Rutherford bagged bronze with 8.29m. Lawson placed fourth with 8.25m.
Click here to read our online report.
Most memorable – Mexico 1968
In the previous 33 years, the world record had advanced just 22 centimetres. That changed in the altitude of Mexico as in one single jump, the record improved by 55 centimetres or 22 inches.
Though the three medallists from 1964 were back, American Bob Beamon (pictured, top) was the favourite but had a reputation for being inconsistent. He barely got through qualifying after two initial fouls but in the first round, with the benefit of perfect 2.0m/sec following wind, he sprinted hard down the runway and, he hit the board perfectly and then flew through the air like no previous other jumper.
The jump was measured at 8.90m, which many believed was the greatest athletic performance in history.
Not only was it the first ever jump of over 28 feet in history, it was also the first jump over 29 feet.
Beamon didn’t realise the magnitude of his jump initially but when he did he collapsed with shock.
His competitors fell apart mentally and found it hard to respond though East German Klaus Beer, who wasn’t expected to medal, had fewer problems and jumped a 8.19m PB to take the silver. Ralph Boston won bronze for his third successive medal.
Beamon’s 8.90m would last as a world record for 23 years and even now, the record has advanced just five centimetres and Beamon still lies second-all time. He never jumped further than 8.20m again.
Ellery Clark was the inaugural winner in Athens in 1896. He struggled at first with two no jumps as Prince George of Greece, who was superintending the event, disallowed any marks to be made to aid run-up strides as it was deemed to be too professional! His third and final jump of 6.35m gave him the title.
In Paris in 1900, qualifying marks were allowed to count and world record-holder Meyer Prinstein won silver with a 7.17m jump though he didn’t compete in the final as it was a Sunday and was prohibited from jumping by his university team even though he himself was Jewish. US team-mate Alvin Kraenzlein pipped him for gold by just one centimetre.
In 1904 Prinstein had no such problems competing in the final and won in St Louis with an Olympic record 7.34m, taking gold by 45 centimetres. Prinstein retained his title in Athens.
Edward Hamm advanced the world record to 7.90m and then improved the Olympic record to 7.73m in winning gold in Amsterdam in 1928.
In 1935, Jesse Owens set a world record of 8.13m – a mark that would last for 25 years.
Defending champion and world record-holder Ralph Boston was favourite in 1964 but America failed to win their 15th gold in 16 Games as Britain’s Lynn Davies adapted better to the cold and windy conditions. He jumped a lifetime best of 8.07m to move up from third to first.
Bob Beamon jumped his incredible 8.90m to get gold in 1968.
In 1980 East German Lutz Dombrowski won with the first actual 28 foot jump as his 8.54m went second all-time.
In 1984, East Germany was absent but Carl Lewis matched Dombrowski’s mark. Curiously Lewis got booed by the American crowd for passing the last four rounds to save himself for his other events as he also won 100m, 200m and relay golds in Los Angeles.
Lewis would go on to win three more consecutive titles.
Ivan Pedroso got gold in Sydney in 2000 with his final jump of 8.55m, while in Athens in 2004 world champion Dwight Phillips won a quality competition with the first eight bettering 8.20m.
In front of a delighted crowd on Super Saturday in London in 2012, Britain’s Greg Rutherford won gold alongside Mo Farah and Jess Ennis. He took the lead with an 8.21m second round and then improved to 8.31m in the fourth to win easily.
Click here for a more in-depth look at the history of the men’s long jump at the Olympic Games from 1896-2012 by Steve Smythe.
» Part of this feature was first published in AW magazine and online in 2016