U.S. men’s world championships long jump domination began in Helsinki

05-13-2005

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In anticipation of the 10th IAAF World Outdoor Track & Field Championships later this summer, USATF will take a look back at many of the great moments provided by U.S. athletes at the previous nine World Outdoor Championships, and look forward to 2005, with a series of feature stories. The series will continue until the beginning of the 2005 World Outdoor Championships, August 5-14 in Helsinki, Finland.

INDIANAPOLIS - Team USA's men's long jumpers swept the top three positions at the inaugural 1983 World Outdoor Championships in Helsinki, Finland, and today's U.S. stars will attempt to replicate that accomplishment when the Championships return to Helsinki in August.

After winning the 100m World Championships gold medal in 1983, National Track & Field Hall of Famer Carl Lewis anchored Team USA's sprint relay to a victory in a semifinal on August 10, just before competing in the long jump final. Lewis won the event on his opening attempt by soaring 8.55 meters/ 28 feet, .75 inch, before skipping his second attempt and leaping 8.41m/27-7.25 in the third round. He then dropped out of the competition to prepare for that day's 4x100m relay final already knowing that the long jump gold medal was firmly in his grasp.

Following Lewis' departure, fellow American Jason Grimes completed a strong series of jumps that featured a silver medal winning leap of 8.29m/27-2.50. National Track & Field Hall of Famer Mike Conley, who placed fourth in the triple jump in Helsinki, went on to win the bronze medal with a best of 8.12m/26-7.75. In sweeping the medals at the first World Outdoor Championships, Lewis, Grimes and Conley began a continuing tradition of success.

Lewis once again won the long jump gold medal at the 1987 Worlds in Rome, and at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo, Mike Powell made history in wresting the gold medal from Lewis in an epic battle that Powell won emphatically by setting the world record of 8.95m/29-4.50. Powell's performance bettered National Track & field Hall of Famer Bob Beamon's monumental world record of 8.90m/29-2.50 at the 1968 Olympic Games, and provided Lewis his first long jump loss since 1981. Lewis finished as the runner-up, with National Track & Field Hall of Famer Larry Myricks completing the U.S. sweep by capturing the bronze medal.

Powell easily won the gold medal at Stuttgart in 1993 (8.59m/28-2.25), before the next three World Championships came and went without another gold medal winning performance by an American. Team USA returned to the top in 2003, when Dwight Phillips soared past the competition by leaping 8.32m/27-3.75 on his fifth attempt in Paris to win the gold. It was his second world title of the year, having won the world indoor crown in March.

Phillips was the world's dominant long jumper outdoors in 2004, soaring over the 27-foot barrier in eight consecutive meets and 10 overall. He was also the only competitor to sail past 28 feet that season, bettering that mark on two occasions. Phillips also hammered the competition in winning the 2004 Olympic gold medal with a best of 8.59m/28-2.25. He was joined on the medal stand in Athens by 2004 NCAA Indoor long jump champion John Moffitt, who won the silver medal with a personal best leap of 8.47m/27-9.50. Phillips and Moffitt ended the 2004 season ranked #1 and #2 in the world respectively by Track & Field News.

Looking ahead to the 10th World Outdoor Championships this summer in Helsinki, the U.S. is stocked with many talented young long jumpers, who could qualify for the team and compete for a medal. Aside from Phillips and Moffitt, also look for, 2004 World Indoor gold medalist and 2001 World Outdoor silver medalist Savante' Stringfellow to return, having recovered from last season's torn Achilles tendon. Others to watch include 2004 Olympic Trials runner-up Tony Allmond, 2003 USA Outdoor long jump runner-up Walter Davis, and Bashir Ramzy, who ended the 2004 season ranked #6 in the U.S. by T&FN.

In the nine-year history of the World Outdoor Championships, U.S. men have enjoyed tremendous success in the long jump, totaling five gold, four silver and four bronze medals. Although there are no guarantees that U.S. men's long jumpers can once again sweep all the medals at this year's World Championships, ala 1983 & 1991, if recent success counts for anything, it's reasonable to expect a U.S. presence on the podium in Helsinki.