Twenty years on-the extraordinary triple jump world record of a “skinny looking, very ordinary guy”, by Mike Rowbottom for


  Mike Rowbottom is one of my favorite writers, and favorite people. 
  A very thoughtful writer, and a man who knows how to wear brightly        colored ties, Mike writes about one of my favorite WR holders: Jonathan 
 Edwards. His TJ WR was at my first World Champs, in 1995. Goteborg      was also my first rave, and a night where I spoke with a hedgehog, 
  said creature did not speak back, but, that, dear readers is a story for 
  another time…

Twenty years on – the extraordinary triple jump world record of a “skinny-looking, very ordinary guy

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MIke Rowbottom ©ITG

Twenty years ago this week a “skinny-looking, very ordinary guy” – his own description – hit the take-off board in Gothenburg’s Ullevi stadium at high speed. By the time his effort came to an end he had left a mark in the sand which, while it was soon smoothed away by an official brush, remains to this day in the form of a world triple jump record of 18.29 metres. Jonathan Edwards, ordinary guy, had done something extraordinary.

It was, in fact, the second world record of the day at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships for the 29-year-old Briton. He had opened up in the final by becoming the first man to better 18m with a following wind legal for record purposes, reaching 18.16m. His second round made him the first to better 60 feet.

Since those startling deeds of August 7, 1995 no one has come closer than 20 centimetres to Edwards’s best legal mark. The 18.09m jumped by home athlete Kenny Harrison at the following year’s Atlanta Olympics shifted Edwards, who had managed 17.88m, to the silver medal position. The Gateshead Harrier would have to wait another four years, until Sydney, to put that right…

The next five best marks of all-time have been set within the last two years as a new generation of triple jumpers approach the Edwards Summit like so many ambitious mountaineers.

But while Teddy Tamgho of France, who jumped 18.04m to win the 2013 world title in Moscow, Olympic champion Christian Taylor of the United States, who has jumped 18.04m and 18.06m in IAAF Diamond League meetings this year, and Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo, who has managed 18.06m and 18.08m this season, have all established camp at high altitude, they still have to negotiate the Everest North Ridge.

Britain's Jonathan Edwards reacts after setting the world triple jump record of 18.29m at the 1995 IAAF World Championships in Gothenburg. On August 7, the record will have lasted 20 years ©Getty Images
Britain’s Jonathan Edwards reacts after setting the world triple jump record of 18.29m at the 1995 IAAF World Championships in Gothenburg. On August 7, the record will have lasted 20 years ©Getty Images
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  • Larry Eder

    Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself." Theme song: Greg Allman, " I'm no Angel."

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