Long Jump History – Ancient to Modern Olympics
The history of the long jump dates back thousands of years to the ancient Olympic Games in Greece. In those days it was part of the pentathlon event, and this makes it one of the oldest track and field events and the oldest vault event in athletics.
The original Olympic Games were a competition and training ground for warriors. The event was created and included in the Olympic Games because it was considered important for the warriors to be agile and able to avoid obstacles such as jumping ditches or streams.
At first, athletes were required to carry a weight ranging from 1 to 4.5 kilos in each hand while running. These were called dumbbells and were used to gain momentum when you were about to jump. The pit originally used was not filled with sand as it is today, but was simply a pit of tilled earth.
It is believed, due to eyewitness reports from the Greek Olympics, that the long jump was accompanied by music, which was used to give the athlete some rhythm in the jump while running with their weights. Long jump performances in Ancient Greece were thought to actually be a triple jump, but the event has been shown to be what we know as a long jump.
When the modern Olympic Games began in 1896, the winner of the first long jump gold medal was Ellery Clark, who jumped 6.35 meters. Another milestone in the history of the event was the world record set in 1935 by Jesse Owens, who jumped 8.13 meters. This record would stand for 25 years until it was broken in 1960. The current world record for the long jump is 8.95 meters in the men’s event and 7.52 meters in the women’s event. The women’s record has been in force for more than 20 years.
The history of the long jump dates back thousands of years and today it remains a popular track and field event, popular with athletes of all ages.