Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The long jump (formerly called broad jump) is an athletic (track and field) event in which athletes attempt to land as far from their take-off points as possible.
Competitors sprint down a runway (at elite level, usually coated with the same rubberised surface as running tracks), jump as far as they can off a slightly raised wooden board into a pit filled with fine gravel or sand. The minimum distance from the board to the indentation made by the competitor in the gravel is measured. If the competitor starts their leap with any part of their foot in front of the board (a layer of plasticine is placed immediately in front of the board to detect this occurrence) the jump is declared illegal and no distance is recorded.
The exact format of the competition varies, but generally each competitor will get a number of attempts to make their longest jump, and only their longest legal jump counts towards the results. The competitor with the longest legal jump at the end of competition is declared the winner.
Speed in the runup and a high leap off the board are the fundamentals of success at the discipline, and it is unsurprising that many sprinters, notably including Carl Lewis, also compete successfully in the long jump.
The long jump is also notable for two of the longest-standing world records in any track and field event. In 1935, Jesse Owens set a long jump world record that was not broken until 1960. Later, Bob Beamon jumped 8.90 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics, a jump not exceeded until 1991. On August 30 of that year, Mike Powell of the USA leapt 8.95 meters at the World Championships in Tokyo. The current world record for women is held by Galina Chistyakova of the former Soviet Union who leapt 7.52 meters in Leningrad in 1988.
The long jump was one of the events of the original Olympics in Ancient Greece. The athletes carried a weight in each hand. These weights would be swung forward as the athlete jumped, in order to increase momentum, and then thrown backwards whilst in mid-air so as to propel himself further forward.
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