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Long Jump Rules

Long Jump Rules
The long jump is a famous athletic sport in which the competitor attempts to cover the most distance in one single leap. This article is about the basic rules of this famous sport.
Parashar Joshi
I'm sure most of you would be familiar with the sport 'long jump'. The long jump is a crucial part of any athletics meet. After all, it is one of those basic sports which nearly every kid (both boys and girls) is introduced to at some point, in school sports days or in high school. The long jump has been a part of the Olympics since the ancient Greek times, and was included in the first modern Olympics in 1896. Often, there is a bit of confusion about standard long jump rules; I myself wasn't sure, until about a month ago, whether they measure the jump to the farthest landing point or the nearest. For those of you who follow the sport and would like to know a few basic details regarding rules and regulations of long jump, this article is the perfect concise summary of the same.
Long Jump: Basics
Before we move onto all the technicalities and formal rules of long jump, here are some long jump basics to get you started. As you all know, the long jump is a sport in which (as the name suggests), the athlete who jumps the longest by legal means, wins. Basically, this is all that the sport is about. The athlete begins running from his or her starting position and after attaining sufficient velocity, jumps, landing in a sand pit, which is fitted with distance markers. There is a foul line, in the run-up area, that the athlete has to be aware of; jumping from beyond this line results in a 'foul jump'. Jumpers try to get as close to the foul line as legally possible before initiating their jump. This entire process is governed by a certain set of rules. Let us see what they are.
Rules and Regulations
  • No part of the athlete's foot should cross the front edge of the foul line. If, at the point of take-off, any part of his foot (even the toe edge of his shoe) crosses the front edge of the foul line, then the jump is termed to be illegal or a 'foul jump', and does not count.
  • Typically, in International track and field events, a long jumper has three attempts to register his or her best legal jump. A foul jump accounts for an attempt, but the time isn't registered. Only the farthest legal jump counts.
  • The distance, or the 'jump' is measured from the front edge of the foul line to the first landing point of the athlete. To better understand this, consider an athlete taking off legally from the foul line and landing on his feet 15 ft from the foul line. However, if, while landing, his hands touch the ground before his legs and a foot behind his farthest landing point, he would be awarded a jump of 14 ft, since the hands are nearer to the foul line than the feet and are the first point of contact.
  • Similarly, even if the athlete takes off from behind the foul line, the starting point is still considered to be the front edge of the foul line, rather than the athlete's actual point of take off.
  • Somersaults are not permitted during the jump.
  • The maximum allowed thickness for a long jumper's shoe sole is 13 mm.
  • Records made with the assistance of a tailwind of more than 2 m/s are not considered. However, the time is registered in the ongoing competition, since all the athletes benefit from the same wind conditions.
Note.- Although there are references to the 'front edge' of the foul line, please note that the foul line is not a 'patch'. It is a single line. The 'front edge' references are simply for the sake of convenience.
Did You Know?
  • The long jump is one of the world's oldest sporting events. It was one of the events at the Ancient Olympic Games in Greece, and back then, it was the sole jumping event.
  • At the Olympics, the long jump is a part of the pentathlon, the heptathlon, and also the decathlon, apart from the solo event itself.
  • The present men's world record in long jump is held by Mike Powell of the USA at 8.95 meters, while the women's world record is held by Galina Chistyakova at 7.52 meters.
  • American track and field legend Carl Lewis made the longest jump of the year (athletics season) 7 times - a record.
  • World records in the long jump are notoriously hard to break. Mike Powell's world record, made in 1991, has not been broken for more than 20 years. The previous world record, held by Bob Beamon at 8.90 meters, had stood for 23 years before being broken by Powell. Similarly, Jesse Owens' 1935 world record of 8.13 meters stood for 25 years before being broken by Ralph Boston in 1960. Even the first long jump world record of 7.61 meters, made by Irishman Peter O'Connor in 1901, took 22 years to be broken.
  • No long jump world records were made in the decades of 1910-20, 40-50, 50-60, 70-80, 80-90, 2000-10 and the relatively young 2010s. Barring the solitary records by O'Connor and Powell, no records were made in the rest of 1900-10 and 1990-2000. This is a relatively rare occurrence in track and field sports.
Top Ten Jumps in History
Athlete (Nationality) Distance Year
Mike Powell (USA) 8.95 m 1991
Bob Beamon (USA) 8.90 m1 1968
Robert Emmiyan (USSR) 8.86 m 1987
Carl Lewis (USA) 8.79 m 1983
Carl Lewis (USA) 8.76 m 1982
Erick Walder 8.74 m 1994
Dwight Phillips (USA) 8.74 m 2009
Irving Saladino (Panama) 8.73 m 2008
Carl Lewis (USA) 8.72 m 1988
Iván Pedroso (Cuba) 8.71 m 1995

Athlete (Nationality) Distance Year
Galina Chistyakova (USSR) 7.52 m 1988
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA) 7.49 m 1994
Heike Drechsler (Germany)2 7.48 m 1992
Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA) 7.45 m 1987
Heike Drechsler (Germany) 7.45 m 1986
Heike Drechsler (Germany) 7.44 m 1985
Anişoara Cuşmir (Romania) 7.43 m 1983
Tatyana Kotova (Russia) 7.42 m 2002
Heike Drechsler (Germany) 7.40 m 1984
Heike Drechsler (Germany) 7.37 m 1991
1. Olympic record; 2. Heike Drechsler competed for East Germany before the unification of Germany.
Long jump is a crucial part of athletics and a prestigious event in international competitions. It has a long heritage and continues to build upon it in modern times.