The long jump is one of the traditional Olympic events, having been included in a varied form in the ancient Greek Games. It was a part of the Olympic revival in 1896.
The long jump is a classic field event, in that it is conceptually very simple, yet a very difficult discipline to master. The long jump has four distinct components—the approach, the takeoff, the jump, and the landing.
The athlete begins the approach by running at a very high speed toward the board that marks the take off point for the jump. As with sports such as the pole vault, the amount of speed that the athlete can develop in the approach translates (if the proper technique is applied) into distance achieved in the jump. Many 100-m sprinters, such as Americans Carl Lewis and Marion Jones, have also been adept long jumpers for this reason.
The take off is a difficult coordination of foot position, coordination and the maintenance of speed from the approach. If any part of the jumper's foot extends beyond the board, the jump is ruled a fault, and the jumper must repeat the jump (a jumper is permitted a limited number of attempts, and a fault is counted as an attempt). The object of the jumper is to execute a take off that creates an optimal angle blending forward speed and vertical jump. The accepted optimal angle of the jumper's body to the
As the jumper moves through the air, the arms will be brought forward and then rotated backwards, to provide the jumper with both stability and a powerful approach to landing.
The jumper endeavors on landing to move forward on impact, to create a mark in the landing area that is made with the jumper's feet and not their buttocks or their hands; the mark made by the jumper on landing closest to the take off board is the mark used to measure the distance on the jump.
The Olympic long jump competition in 1968 provided one of the most stunning results in the history of sport. American Bob Beamon broke the then world record by 21.75 in (0.55 m), an astounding increase over the previous standard, when he jumped 29 ft 2.5 in (8.9 m). The enormity of Beamon's achievement is best reflected in the fact that as of May 2006, the Beamon record from 1968 remains the second longest jump in history.