Mike Powell’s long jump record endures 30 years later

1 month ago 31
PR Distribution

TOKYO — Winds racing up of an approaching typhoon swirled done Olympic Stadium arsenic if delivering an ominous beforehand informing connected an eerie and humid nighttime already heavy with an electrical tension.

At the apical of the agelong leap runway astatine the World Championships, Mike Powell stood astatine the halfway of different storm, 1 that had been gathering and past ebbing and yet regaining momentum implicit astir a quarter-century; a tempest fueled connected this night, August 30, 1991, by the imaginable of the erstwhile unthinkable and the heavy idiosyncratic animus betwixt Powell and Carl Lewis, the century’s top Olympian.

Through the archetypal 4 of six rounds successful the Worlds agelong leap final, Powell, a erstwhile UC Irvine and UCLA standout, and Lewis had waged an epic conflict that remains the sport’s top duel. A nighttime that recovered Lewis’ decade-long unbeaten streak successful the lawsuit connected the line, Bob Beamon’s satellite grounds of 29-feet, 2 ½ inches, the 23-year-old satellite shot, wrong reach.

Lewis’ 4th leap landed astatine 29-2 3/4 , a half-inch beyond Beamon’s mark, but had been aided by 2.9 meters per 2nd wind, 0.9 supra the allowable bounds for grounds purposes.

Instead of delivering the knock-out blow, history’s longest leap seemed to energize Powell arsenic helium prepared for his 5th jump, the night’s buzz racing crossed his skin.

“There was truthful overmuch electricity, ions successful the air,” Powell precocious recalled, “the benignant of upwind wherever astatine immoderate infinitesimal determination could beryllium a lightning strike.”

Fifteen strides down the runway aboriginal it did.

Powell sprung disconnected the board, a onslaught that launched him onto what Wilbur Wright called “the infinite road of air,” soaring past the 1970s, past the 1980s, decades wherever the world’s champion jumpers believed Beamon’s grounds was unapproachable, arsenic if a distant planet, soaring past Beamon, past Lewis, yet landing successful a spot nary quality had ever reached before, touching disconnected a thunder that continues to echo done the athletics 3 decades later.

Powell’s satellite grounds of 29-4 ½, 8.95 meters, turns 30 Monday, having survived 7 years longer than Beamon’s leap, a feat truthful bonzer that it spawned its ain adjective, Beamonesque, a superlative that  became synonymous with the eventual successful diversion achievement.

“You can’t minimize the endurance of the record,” said Dwight Stones, the erstwhile satellite record-holder successful the precocious jump, who called the 1991 Worlds for NBC.

The record, similar the 2 men who forged it, and the antheral they and truthful galore others chased, looms adjacent larger now.

“The top nighttime ever,” said Robert Emmiyan, who competed successful the 1991 Worlds for the Soviet Union.

As those who witnessed Powell instrumentality formation callback the moment, the energy that surged done the nighttime remains contiguous successful their voices, arsenic if Powell had conscionable landed.

“It was epic,” Stones said. “Just epic. Carl jumps 29 feet 3 times and doesn’t win?”

“When you get a clash, an inevitable conflict betwixt 2 armies and we each cognize what’s coming,” recalled Edrick Floreal, who jumped for Canada successful Tokyo and is present the caput manager astatine Texas. “These 2 guys had been going astatine it for rather a portion and we each knew that this was coming. At immoderate constituent successful time, this is going to happen. So for maine it was astir similar 2 large ships connected a collision people toward each different and determination was thing that could halt that.”

The effect was a grounds that remains arsenic distant arsenic Beamon’s erstwhile seemed. Since that nighttime successful Tokyo, lone 2 jumpers person adjacent reached 28-8 ¼, 8.74 meters, and lone 1 of them, Dwight Phillips of the U.S. successful 2009, has done it this century.

“It’s specified a leap,” Stones said. “In 53 years, the lawsuit has lone evolved 2 inches. That’s a agelong ass time.”

As overmuch arsenic the record, the nighttime endures for the rivalry that produced it and the triumph of a antheral who had taken connected the sport’s biggest prima and its astir revered grounds connected this 1 peculiar evening had soared beyond some of them.

“I was conscionable watching the show,” Floreal said. “I was thinking, ‘This is axenic insanity.’ That nighttime was astir similar Mike was connected this thing, ‘Carl has beaten maine similar a 1000 times, he’s not beating maine today.’ I deliberation if Carl would person jumped 30 feet, Mike would person jumped 30 feet, 1 inch. It was astir that crazy. It didn’t truly substance what Carl did that night, Mike was acceptable to outdo him.”

In the ensuing 30 years, Powell has travel to presumption the grounds successful a larger context, a azygous leap of religion defining his beingness successful 29-feet, 4 ½ inches.

“I would archer radical I was going to interruption the satellite grounds and radical would laughter astatine me,” helium said. “Reporters and different athletes would go, ‘Come connected Mike.’ I was utilized to radical counting maine out. To maine that (gold) medal was my F you to the world.

“It was astir mode much than a competition, it was astir my beingness and overcoming obstacles and conscionable happiness due to the fact that I believed successful myself and I worked hard and I achieved thing that has inactive not been breached now.”



Beamon, competing for Texas-El Paso, was putting connected his sweat having conscionable breached his ain satellite indoor grounds astatine the NCAA Championships astatine Detroit’s Cobo Arena successful March 1968 erstwhile a mediate aged antheral reached retired to him.

“Hello, my sanction is Jesse Owens,” Beamon recalled the victor of 4 golden medals astatine the 1936 Belin Olympics introducing himself.

“I thought I was betwixt clip and space,” Beamon said.

“He said, ‘You know, you look bully Bob. I deliberation that’s a large happening you did, but you request to execute and get yourself acceptable for the Olympics. That’s the top competition. This is large but you request to bash that successful the Olympics.’”

“I’d similar to leap 27 feet successful the Olympics and possibly interruption your record,” Beamon told Owens.

On the day of May 25, 1935, astatine the Big Ten championships successful Ann Arbor, Owens jumped 26-8, 1 of 4 satellite records the Ohio State sophomore acceptable successful a 45 infinitesimal play that day.

“The Greatest 45 Minutes successful Sports History,” Sports Illustrated boasted 75 years later.

Owens’ agelong leap satellite grounds stood for 25 years until Ralph Boston went 26-11 ¼ astatine Mt. SAC successful August 1960. When the Olympic Games successful Mexico City opened successful October 1968, Boston and Soviet Igor Ter-Ovanesyan had improved the satellite grounds to 27-4 ¼, conscionable 2 inches amended than Beamon’s indoor record.

Shortly earlier 4 p.m. connected the day of October 18, Beamon, the 4th jumper successful the order, stepped onto the runway for his archetypal jump. The time had an eerie consciousness to it, the rumble of thunder could beryllium heard successful the distance.

“Come on, marque it a bully one,” Boston, the 1960 Olympic golden medalist, yelled astatine Beamon, according to Olympic historiographer David Wallechinsky.

He did.

The scoreboard flashed 8.90 meters. Beamon, unfamiliar with the metric system, asked Boston for a conversion.

“Bob, you jumped 29 feet,” Boston said.

Beamon, aided by a 2.0 wind, the maximum allowable, and the bladed aerial of Mexico City’s 7,349 ft elevation, had sailed 29-2 ½.

“What bash I bash now?” Beamon asked Boston.

At 1 constituent Beamon collapsed to the crushed successful a cataplectic seizure.

He wasn’t unsocial successful feeling overwhelmed by the moment.

“Compared to his jump, we are children,” Ter-Ovanesyan said to Great Britain’s Lynn Davies, the 1964 Olympic champion.

“I can’t spell on,” Davies told Boston. “What is the point? We each look silly.”

Not agelong afterward Estadio Olimpico was drenched by a thunderous downpour, seemingly washing distant immoderate anticipation of a caller satellite grounds for decades.

“You person destroyed this event,” Davies told Beamon.

In the 33 years since Owen’s leap successful Ann Arbor, the satellite grounds had improved 8 ½ inches. In but a fewer seconds, Beamon had wholly bypassed the 28-foot barrier, adding astir 2 feet, 21 ¾ to the planetary standard. It would beryllium different 12 years earlier a 2nd jumper adjacent surpassed 28 feet, and that leap, 28-1/4, by East Germany’s Lutz Dombrowski astatine the 1980 Olympic Games successful Moscow has agelong been viewed with skepticism fixed a bid of irregular decisions by officials successful favour of Eastern bloc athletes successful the jumping events astatine those Games.

“It was revered, but it was besides scorned successful that Bob ruined the event,” Stones said. “He made the lawsuit irrelevant due to the fact that the grounds was truthful acold retired there. He broke it by truthful much. Very fewer radical had adjacent jumped 27 feet. No 1 had jumped 28 feet until Dombrowski successful Moscow and due to the fact that of the shenanigans successful Moscow who knows if helium adjacent jumped that far. He truly similar ruined the lawsuit due to the fact that everybody was benignant of fto down erstwhile idiosyncratic would triumph astatine 8 meters oregon 26-6 oregon thing similar that and everybody was like, ‘Ho, hum. I deliberation it stunned and shocked radical and the lawsuit went into shock. In that ‘Oh, my god, I benignant of dreamt of 1 time being the satellite grounds holder erstwhile the satellite grounds was 27-5 ½ but (expletive), present it’s this?’

“Same happening with Soto,” Stones continued, referring to Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor, who raised the precocious leap satellite grounds to a Beamonesque 8-feet successful 1989 and past 8 ½ successful 1993. “Soto Beamonized the precocious jump. So I deliberation (Beamon’s record) really wounded the lawsuit for the longest time. The amended portion of a decennary I’d accidental and past they started banging distant astatine it.”

By the aboriginal 1980s, nary 1 was banging louder than Lewis.


Lewis jumped 28-9 successful 1982,  28-10 ¼ a twelvemonth later. But Lewis besides had different interests. He replicated Owens’ 4 golds successful Berlin by winning the 100, 200 meters, agelong leap and anchoring the 4×100-meter relay. Lewis successfully defended his 100 and agelong leap titles successful Seoul 4 years later.

He arrived successful Tokyo unbeaten successful 65 consecutive agelong leap competitions, dating backmost to February 1981. He had jumped 28 oregon further 56 times.

“I deliberation if Carl had concentrated connected the agelong leap I deliberation helium astir apt would person jumped 30 feet,” Beamon said. “I perfectly thought helium was the 1 who would beryllium the 1 who broke the record.”

Stones is 1 of galore who judge Lewis went 30 feet astatine the Olympic Festival successful Indianapolis successful July 1982 lone to beryllium robbed of the history-making leap erstwhile a justice erroneously ruled helium had fouled.

“Carl should person had it earlier (1991),” Stones said. “Frankly, let’s look it, helium did it successful ’82. We each cognize his leap astatine the Olympic Festival was astir apt implicit 30 feet. And they gave him a foul. It’s an implicit travesty that that happened.”


Powell was calved successful Philadelphia earlier moving with his household to Southern California erstwhile helium was 11. At Edgewood High School successful West Covina helium was much focused connected hoops than way and field. He enrolled astatine UCI and past transferred to UCLA, wherever helium came nether the helping of Milan Tiff, the archetypal American to leap 57 feet successful the triple jump.

Tiff had been mentored by Beamon and was a talented creator who viewed jumping arsenic an creation form.

“A cosmic athlete,” said Stones, who had trained with Tiff astatine UCLA. “Way up of his time.”

Tiff emphasized visualization and tapping into the earthy bushed of jumping.

“If you’re truly privation to spell aft satellite records, you person to acceptable it up and you person to get a position of what it is,” Tiff said. “You conscionable can’t spell to a way conscionable and deliberation it’s conscionable going to travel retired of nowhere. You person to person a position of it.”

With jumping, Tiff said “it’s the sound. A manager volition accidental well, backmost up, bash this. A manager volition springiness a method mentation arsenic to what to do, but it’s the sounds. It’s not words. And Bob had the sound. He knew what it sounded similar to tally and jump. He would hum it to me. And I hummed it to Mike and Mike knew what it was.

“When you’re successful that situation, you’ve got the audience, there’s a dependable determination that you tune successful to. It’s similar a frequency. I deliberation birds person it, immoderate carnal that flies has it. It’s similar a bee, erstwhile it goes by your ear, you perceive it. It’s the aforesaid thing.”


Said Beamon “what’s earthy successful a bee tin besides beryllium earthy to a quality being successful that bee people flies, the bee does its occupation successful producing honey, erstwhile you turn accustomed to knowing precisely what that quality is past it’s not a happening that you person to deliberation astir anymore. It’s conscionable a earthy happening that goes done you. Boom.”

By the mid 1980s, Tiff was convinced Powell was acceptable to instrumentality flight.

“Now I’m going to person to telephone Bob and I’m going to person to accidental Bob, I conscionable saw a feline who tin interruption your record,” Tiff recalled. “What bash you privation maine to do? Do you privation maine to support showing him oregon should I permission it unsocial truthful you tin person your record?”

Said Powell, “We talked and helium said you’ve got that worldly Bob’s got. You tin interruption the satellite record. He was 1 of the large reasons why, due to the fact that helium enactment that successful my head. I respected him truthful overmuch and truthful it was similar if helium said I tin bash it, I can.”


Tiff wasn’t the lone 1 making predictions to Beamon astir Powell.

Randy Huntington took implicit coaching Powell aft UCLA. After having a “few beers” successful the German pavilion astatine the 1988 Olympics successful Seoul, Huntington boasted to Beamon, “I’m the feline who’s going to manager the feline who’s going to interruption your record.”

But archetypal Powell had to drawback Lewis. He finished a distant 2nd to Lewis successful Seoul—27-10 ¼ to 28-7 ¼. But what Powell remembered astir astir those Games was officials delaying the agelong leap medal ceremonial to accommodate Lewis’ relay duties. Because of the delay, Powell said, the ceremonial took spot successful a adjacent bare stadium.

“That selfishness connected his portion truly stayed with me,” Powell said. “And that’s 1 of the things that made maine super, ace pissed off.”

The Seoul incidental was conscionable 1 incidental that Powell added his increasing lists of perceived slights oregon affronts by Lewis.

“He was the feline and I wanted to bushed him really, truly severely arsenic each the jumpers did due to the fact that helium conscionable wasn’t good liked, you know,” Powell said. “And immoderate of the things helium did made it easier for maine to not similar him. Small things. But I inactive took them arsenic a flimsy and that was benignant of the mode I was wired immoderate way: underdog, spot connected my shoulder, benignant of similar the mode Michael Jordan was, I could marque idiosyncratic the force implicit thing and Carl did a batch of worldly that I used. I mean helium gave maine truthful overmuch ammunition.

“It was a hatred that I had for him. It was truly idiosyncratic and heavy rooted and I was determined to get him.”


“When we would person competitions earlier the competitions commencement they instrumentality their crook and past they spell to cheque their tally and bash a small popular up jump. He didn’t leap that often. He had a 65-meet winning streak implicit 10 years. That’s lone an mean of six meets a year. But erstwhile helium did come, radical were truthful successful awe of him that erstwhile helium came connected the runway everybody conscionable parted the oversea and moved to the side. And I was similar what the heck? So erstwhile that happened, I would measurement connected the runway successful beforehand of him, letting him cognize ‘I’m not giving it up to you. You whitethorn beryllium amended than maine but I’m not going to marque it casual for you.’ So I took that grittiness that I had to fto him cognize ‘I’m not going to laic down for you.’ If you’re going to bushed me, you’re going to bushed maine but I’m not giving it to you.”


Powell was 0-15 against King Carl going into the 1991 Worlds. But helium had besides been encouraged by the months starring up to Tokyo. He had a 29-1 ¾ foul earlier successful the season. Lewis had conscionable edged him 28-4 ¼ to 28-3 ¾ astatine the U.S. Championships successful June.

“I was inching person and person to beating him, truthful my assurance level was high,” Powell said.

“People ever thought ‘well, cipher tin interruption the record’ and I was similar good if idiosyncratic did it, past idiosyncratic other could bash it. And I besides knew that I had jumped beyond the satellite grounds successful competitions doubly earlier (on foul jumps). I already knew I’d jumped the distance, (but) they couldn’t constitute it down.

“I was wholly convinced that I was going to interruption the satellite record.”


Lewis was besides reasoning satellite record, having already breached the 100 planetary modular earlier successful the conscionable (9.86 seconds), adding further intrigue to the night.

Lewis opened with a conscionable grounds leap of 28-5 ¾. Powell, meanwhile, was truthful revved up helium astir hyperventilated earlier his archetypal jump, an astir embarrassing 25-9 ¼ effort.

“First run, started excessively fast,” Powell said. “I was trying to interruption the grounds connected the archetypal one.

“So I calmed down.”

Powell sailed 28-1/4 connected his 2nd jump. Lewis fouled.

“Thought beauteous decent, thought 27-5 possibly and they said 28 ¼ and I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s 28, oh, yeah, this is going to beryllium a bully day,’ due to the fact that I ever had my amended jumps astatine the extremity wherever Carl was conscionable consistent,” Powell said.

“Whenever helium jumped it was acold each azygous time,” helium continued laughing. “So arsenic overmuch arsenic I was pissed astatine Carl, I had full respect for him due to the fact that helium was specified a large technician and specified a large competitor.”

Powell wasn’t the lone who realized they were successful the midst of thing special.

“Wow, it wasn’t surprising,” Floreal said of the satellite record. “You know, sometimes you spot a satellite grounds and you’re similar ‘holy (expletive), this is an unthinkable performance.’ It truly wasn’t similar that. There was conscionable this air. The aerial was heavy like, man, thing atrocious is going to hap today. It was clear, similar uh, oh. Something atrocious is going to hap today. Somebody is going to spell nuts today. It was conscionable 1 of those nights wherever you conscionable knew anybody who is not present contiguous is going to miss out, due to the fact that this is simply a peculiar moment.

“It was similar the Thriller successful Manilla,” helium continued, referring to the last bout successful Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier’s heavyweight trilogy. “It was astir like, I can’t truly explicate it to anybody, I tin archer you a small spot however I felt. It was crazy. I became a spectator. After Mike’s 2nd leap and they started going backmost and forth, I became a spectator. It was, ‘Man, I don’t privation to miss this. Forget me. Forget medals. I conscionable privation to ticker this.


“It was astir similar is this truly happening? This is World War I and they’re going astatine it and you rapidly became a instrumentality and adjacent though you’re a satellite people jumper, you enactment your satellite people jumping to the broadside due to the fact that what was happening was truthful overmuch bigger than thing else. It was conscionable big.”


Lewis went 28-11 ¾ successful the 3rd round, Powell 27-2 ½.

Powell came backmost with a agelong foul successful the 4th round, contempt chopping his steps.

“A truly large foul which they said was the satellite record,” Powell said. “They called it a foul. You’re a jumper, you benignant of cognize erstwhile you foul. I didn’t foul, I didn’t consciousness the plasticine nether my feet and I went backmost and said to the (official) ‘show maine the mark.’ And the feline showed maine the people and I said, ‘That’s not my shoe. That’s an Adidas shoe. I deterioration Nikes.’

“(But) I was like, ‘OK, my steps inactive aren’t connected and each I had to bash was get my attack on.’”

While Powell was sorting retired his approach, Lewis sailed the wind-aided 29-2 ¾.

“The longest leap successful history!” roared the BBC’s David Coleman.

“It was axenic insanity,” Floreal said. “Carl jumped (29-2 ¾) and it didn’t faze Mike. That was the weird thing. You fig idiosyncratic throws an uppercut successful circular 4 and drops you, you’re astir apt reasoning that Mike would beryllium like, ‘Holy, crap helium did this,’ but it really looked similar it pissed him off. Refocused him.”

And truthful Powell stepped onto the runway for his 5th jump.

“I knew this was the 1 earlier I started moving due to the fact that for one, I conscionable was truthful fired up, due to the fact that erstwhile Carl made his archetypal 4th jump, Carl is not truly exuberant, he’s beauteous calm but helium was ace fired up, pumping his fists and going, ‘Yeah, that’s right, that’s right.’ He looked astatine maine like, ‘Yeah, that’s right,’ and I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got the feeling of similar that combat oregon formation feeling,’” Powell said. “We’re astir to spell close now. And that’s what happened, I got up and I had that benignant of adrenaline successful me. So erstwhile I got to the runway I was conscionable pissed, pissed beyond belief. You cognize if I could person deed someone, oregon knocked their caput off, that’s what was going connected wrong of me.”


Behind him Powell could consciousness a tempest approaching.

“And I cognize that feeling due to the fact that it happened a mates of times erstwhile we were connected the way successful Indianapolis and we got BOOM, thunder!!!” helium said. “That’s the benignant of feeling we had. And the aerial was heavy and determination was typhoon was coming successful and truthful it was close determination connected the borderline and it was the aforesaid benignant of upwind erstwhile Bob Beamon jumped successful Mexico City.”


Powell puffed his cheeks 4 times, bowed his caput and took disconnected down the runway, pursuing the humming, the frequence Tiff taught him to tune into, chasing Lewis, chasing Beamon.

“And I usage a batch of visualization erstwhile I tally and truthful I had antithetic animals I delegate to antithetic parts of my approach,” helium said. “Bull, galloping horse, a cheetah and past maine dunking from the free-throw enactment and past astatine the extremity of that visualization I would perceive to the effect you get from getting a bully jump, the ‘ooohs.’ So erstwhile I went done my visualization, I thought, ‘This is it. I tin spot it. This is astir to hap close now. Just go.’ And past I went.”

Stones knew the leap was peculiar from the infinitesimal Powell deed the board.

Mike Powell of the United State during the Long Jump lawsuit astatine the IAAF World Athletic Championships connected 30th August 1991 astatine the Olympic Stadium successful Tokyo, Japan. Powell broke Bob Beamon’s 23-year-old agelong leap satellite grounds by 5 cm (2 inches), leaping 8.95 m (29 ft 4 in). (Photo by Mike Powell/Getty Images)

“He got an exceptional height,’ Stones said. “Height that was much than I was utilized to seeing him get. ‘Oh, my god, that’s brainsick height,’ and I looked astatine the region ‘Wow, that’s retired there.’”

Powell had a akin consciousness successful mid-air.

“When I knew I had made a bully jump, I would fto retired a outcry benignant of similar the mode the changeable putters bash and I ne'er did it connected intent it conscionable happened erstwhile I made a bully jump,” helium said. “And I fto retired a ‘Yeaaaaah!!!’ And I was successful the aerial like, ‘This is gonna beryllium far!’ laughing. And arsenic soon arsenic I deed the sand, the assemblage fto maine know.

“It was conscionable ‘awwwwwh.’”

“That’s huge!” the BBC’s Coleman shouted.

But however huge?

The official’s achromatic emblem went up immediately. It was a just jump.

“And I could perceive radical successful the stands saying satellite record, satellite record. So my archetypal effect was to look and spot if the upwind was legal,” Powell said.

The scoreboard work 0.03 mps.

“It was allowable (for grounds purposes),” Stones said. “And past I conscionable waited, we each waited. It seemed similar an eternity of course.”

Finally the scoreboard flashed 8.95, a caller satellite record.

“We saw 8.95 and of people everyone went nuts, including Mike,” Stones said.

“I was similar I got it, I’ve got the satellite record, conscionable however acold is it going to be, however acold is it going to be? And I was hoping for 9 meters something,” Powell said. “And past I saw the 8.95 and I said, ‘OK astatine slightest I got the record’ and truthful I was super, ace fired up, moving around, throwing my fist up to the crowd, springiness it to me, springiness it to me.”

He was inactive moving erstwhile helium was stopped by Australia’s Dave Culbert, who would decorativeness sixth that nighttime and a person of Powell’s. The brace slapped hands and past Culbert reminded Powell, ‘Mike, Carl’s got 2 jumps left.”

“Oh, sprout I forgot astir that,” Powell said.

“We were each conditioned if you made a large leap Carl was going to travel back,” Powell recalled. “He had done it to each of us. Numerous times. So successful my mind, ‘OK, he’s going to travel down and he’s going to travel down and spell astir 29-6, 29-7 close now. So I’ve got to beryllium acceptable to spell 29-10 and past I anticipation helium doesn’t spell 30 feet connected his past jump. That was my mindset.

“But past I saw thing antithetic successful him earlier helium jumps and I looked astatine his look and that’s the archetypal clip I saw a look of vulnerability and uncertainty that I had ne'er seen before. Because helium had ever got specified a stoic mode and afloat of confidence.

“Oh, I shook him, shook him a small bit.”

Lewis finished the 5th circular by jumping 29-1 ¼ into a flimsy headwind.

After fouling his sixth and last jump, Powell could lone hold helplessly arsenic Lewis prepared for 1 past leap.

“I tin inactive consciousness the symptom successful my heart,” Powell said. “My bosom was hurting. It was pounding but it was pain. It was a achy feeling successful there. I was utilized to him coming backmost and winning. I felt similar astir apt he’s astir to interruption the satellite record. I turned to (bronze medalist) Larry Myricks “I person to accidental it close present successful lawsuit helium breaks it, ‘I’m the satellite grounds holder.’ And helium started laughing. ‘Dude, travel connected present you know.’”

American agelong jumper Mike Powell strikes a prayerful airs astatine the 3rd World Track and Field Championships arsenic teammate Carl Lewis makes his past jump, Aug. 30, 1991, successful Tokyo. Lewis, considered the astir apt to bushed Bob Beamon’s longstanding satellite record, came up abbreviated and Powell, who had already made his record-breaking leap of 29 feet, 4 and one-half inches, took the golden and his ain spot successful way and tract history. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Powell clasped his hands successful supplication and rested his caput against them, his eyes closed, unwilling oregon incapable to watch.

Lewis landed.

“That wasn’t acold enough,” Powell recalled reasoning arsenic helium rested connected his hands and knees connected the infield grass.

It wasn’t—29-0.

“And past his people came up and that’s erstwhile I yet realized that I won,” helium said.

Powell leaned implicit and pounded the crushed with his hands and past lept to his feet taking disconnected connected different aimless run. He hugged the archetypal idiosyncratic helium saw, a somewhat bewildered Japanese agelong leap official.

“He got successful the way, truthful helium got a hug,” Powell said.

There was besides an awkward clasp with Lewis.

“Pure exuberance and joy, relief, happiness, oh, it was mode much than conscionable breaking the satellite record,” Powell said. “It was maine conscionable saying to the satellite that I was determination and I told you, I told you I could bash this.”

Afterward Lewis seemed little than convinced.

“Mike had the 1 large jump,” Lewis told reporters. “He whitethorn ne'er bash it again.”

“I thought helium was a (expletive),” Powell said. “But aft that constituent erstwhile we competed helium didn’t bash things to get maine pissed disconnected anymore.”

Beamon was much gracious erstwhile helium received an aboriginal greeting telephone telephone astatine his Miami location from quarter-miler Ron Freeman, an Olympic teammate.

“Bob, I conscionable recovered retired that they broke your record,” Freeman said.

It would beryllium the archetypal of a flood of telephone calls helium would person successful the coming weeks.

I indispensable person had telephone calls from that time until 3 oregon 4 months later,” Beamon said. “It was constant. I’m very, precise blessed for Mike.

“I ever thought records were made to beryllium broken.”


After Tokyo, Powell turned his attraction to breaking different barrier—30 feet.

“Following twelvemonth my grooming went to a full antithetic level,” helium said. “So I was instantly reasoning 30 feet. Everything I did was way, mode better. I was mode faster, learned a batch astir my approach.

In 1992 I could leap 28 feet successful signifier similar it was nothing. I’m going 30. I’m going 30-plus. In my head, I was similar reasoning astir 30-feet-8. My caput was like, oh, yeah.”

He jumped a wind-aided 29-6 soon earlier the Olympic Games, but successful Barcelona Powell made what helium called “the hugest mistake of my diversion career.”

“I did that to him that adjacent twelvemonth astatine the Olympic Games,” Powell said. “I was jumping good 29-6, 29-2 earlier that twelvemonth I was coming to the meet, ‘Yeah, this is going to beryllium my show, I’m going to travel to meet, leap 30 feet, this is going to beryllium my golden medal. Carl was benignant of struggling that year.

“I retrieve successful the warm-up (saying) ‘Come connected Carl, enactment 1 retired there, man, let’s go.’ And I could conscionable spot him look astatine maine and helium went down determination and helium jumped 28-5 1/2. And I was like. ‘Oh, (expletive). I was similar damn it, wherefore did you bash that. Let sleeping dogs lie. So I gave him each his confidence.

“Jumped 28-5 connected his archetypal leap and I couldn’t travel backmost and get him but that was my fault, I got arrogant.”

Lewis’ archetypal leap held up for the golden medal, an inch and a 4th up of Powell. Four years aboriginal Lewis claimed a 4th agelong leap golden successful Atlanta. Powell finished 5th much than a ft down Lewis.

“What bothers maine was not winning the golden medal successful the Olympics,” Powell said. “That’s what hurts maine due to the fact that I accomplished each different extremity that I wanted to execute successful track. My extremity successful ’92 was leap 30 feet, triumph the golden medal and past successful ’93 I was going to commencement moving the 200 meters and I thought I could interruption the satellite grounds successful the 200 meters.”


He recalled a speech with Michael Johnson, who doubly broke the 200 satellite record.

“Michael was laughing and I’m saying ‘I’m telling you dude, my times successful practice, if I trained for it I cognize I could tally 19.7,’” Powell said. “In 1996, I was going to bid for decathlon and interruption satellite grounds successful the  decathlon.”

Instead Powell wrestled with his personage status. He signed lucrative deals with Nike, Ray-Ban, Foot Locker. He was featured successful mainstream magazines similar GQ.

“People are amazed by what I did, and I’m like, ‘Phht, you don’t adjacent know. That was conscionable the beginning,’” helium said. “But everything doesn’t spell your way. I wasn’t acceptable for the notoriety.

“It wasn’t like, ‘Are you…?’ it was like, ‘You’re Mike Powell.’”

He developed anxiousness and successful 1993 suffered the archetypal successful a bid of panic attacks earlier a nationalist quality successful Australia.

“Took maine a portion to get utilized to that,” helium said. “I tin astir recognize wherefore a big-time personage is brainsick due to the fact that you’re surviving a antithetic benignant of reality.”


Thirty years aft the nighttime successful Tokyo everlastingly linked them, Powell and Lewis person an uneasy relationship.

“We’re OK.” Powell said. “For a portion determination I thought we were chill but you cognize I don’t cognize what’s going connected with him. I effort to beryllium affable but you cognize but we spent immoderate clip unneurotic successful Japan. We did different session and we were hanging retired talking. I felt similar everything was cool. But the past mates of times I’ve talked to him helium hasn’t been arsenic receptive, truthful I don’t know. I don’t care, I don’t care. I archer the information and sometimes the information hurts. So if that’s the case, past truthful beryllium it then.”

But helium besides acknowledges Lewis’ relation successful creating a satellite grounds helium remains somewhat amazed helium inactive owns.

“People could bash it,” Powell said. “But I did it successful the competition. When it matters and that’s what it’s about. That’s wherefore it stood truthful long. Plus I had a rabbit successful beforehand of maine successful Carl. I was chasing Carl the full time.

“And learning from him.”

Lessons that helium is much than blessed to walk on.

Once 1 of the planet’s astir celebrated athletes, Powell mostly remains retired of the spotlight, frustrated that helium has not been asked to stock what Beamon taught Tiff, who successful crook whispered to him; the humming, the uncommon frequence helium followed down a runway 30 years agone done tempest connected a nighttime that crackled and popped until helium delivered thunder that inactive shakes those who were there.

“I deliberation idiosyncratic would travel to maine and say, ‘Would you manager me”‘ helium said. “If nary 1 wants to inquire maine past I’ll conscionable keeping going connected arsenic the satellite grounds holder I guess.”

Read Entire Article