Tianna Bartoletta in the long jump at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 (Getty images)

Long Jump

How it works

Competitors sprint along a runway and jump as far as possible into a sandpit from a wooden take-off board. The distance travelled, from the edge of the board to the closest indentation in the sand to it, is then measured.

A foul is committed – and the jump is not measured – if an athlete steps beyond the board.

Most championship competitions involve six jumps per competitor, although usually a number of them, those with the shorter marks, are often eliminated after three jumps. If competitors are tied, the athlete with the next best distance is declared the winner.


The origins of the long jump can be traced to the Olympics in Ancient Greece, when athletes carried weights in each hand. These were swung forward on take-off and released in the middle of the jump in a bid to increase momentum.

The long jump, as we know it today, has been part of the Olympics since the first Games in 1896. The men’s event has seen some long-standing world records by US jumpers. Jesse Owens jumped 8.13m in 1935, a distance that was not exceeded until 1960, and Bob Beamon flew out to 8.90m in the rarefied air of Mexico City at the 1968 Olympic Games. The latter mark stood until Mike Powell beat it with a leap of 8.95m at the 1991 World Championships.

Did you know

The standing long jump was also on the Olympic programme from 1900 to 1912 and the US jumper Raymond Ewry won four times, from 1900 to 1908, including at the 1906 Intercalated Games.

Gold standard

USA has dominated the men’s event at the Olympic Games, with all but six winners since 1896. US long jumper Dwight Phillips, the 2004 Olympic champion, has won four world titles.

On the women's side, another US athlete, Brittney Reese has been the top athlete in the event in recent years, winning six global titles in a row between 2009 and 2013.


Carl Lewis

The US superstar scooped four successive Olympic gold medals between 1984 and 1996, one of only two athletes in any sport to win an individual event at four consecutive Games, and he won at two World Championships. The world indoor record of 8.79m he set in 1984 still stands.

Heike Drechsler

The German won two Olympic, two world and four consecutive European titles during a top-class career that lasted almost two decades. She also set two world records and finished her career with a best of 7.48m, which makes her the third-best woman ever.