Robert (Bob) Beamon’s world-record breaking leap in Mexico City was one of the most extraordinary sporting feats in Olympic history.
Bob Beamon’s first leap at the 1968 Mexico City Games inspired a new word. “Beamonesque” means an athletic feat so superior to what has come before, it is overwhelming.
Beamon was the pre-tournament favourite but almost went out at the qualifying stage. He overstepped the mark on his first two jumps and with only one left, turned to a team-mate for help. Ralph Boston advised him to take off way before the board. Beamon did so and qualified easily for the final.
Off the scale
Beamon's first jump of the final was so long that the optical measuring device slid off its rail before reaching Beamon's mark. Using an old-fashioned steel tape, the officials announced the distance as 8.90m. Beamon collapsed, overcome by emotion.
Until that moment, it had taken 33 years for the long jump world record to progress 22 centimetres, but in one leap, Beamon added another 55 centimetres. This record, although aided by the high altitude of Mexico City, was one of the longest standing in history, lasting another 23 years.