The Long Jump was an amazing event on 11 August. The lead changed several times and the silver and bronze medals changed several times. In this feature, Stuart Weir lets us see how the event unwound and how the athletes reacted to the competition and who it will affect them in the future.
An epic long-jump competition
Tonight there was a medal, a near miss, a disappointment, drama in the Olympic stadium, Berlin – and I’m only talking about the women’s long jump. Britain had three of the 12 jumpers, all capable of getting a medal.
Lorraine Ugen, a seven meter jumper at the GB trials, could not find her form tonight. 6.45m was her best but it was not enough to make the final eight, who got the three extra jumps. Shara Proctor with a best of 6.70 and three other jumps over 6.50 was the early leader. Then Malaika Mihambo sent the home crowd wild with 6.75 in round three, which was to be the winning distance.
While no one was to catch Mihambo, the battle for silver and bronze was epic.
6.66 in round five put Jazmin Sawyers into third place, behind Mihambo and Proctor..
6.67 later in round five put Maryna Bekh into third place, and Jazmin Sawyers out of the medals.
6.67 in round six by Sawyers equaled Bekh’s best which put Sawyers ahead on count back
6.73 by Bekh in round six put her in second place, knocking Sawyers, out of the medals again and demoting Proctor to bronze.
Sawyers reacted to the reversal with amazing sportsmanship, going over to Bekh and hugging her.
This is how the protagonists saw the evening.
Malaika Mihambo: “Well, I cannot put it in words, it is so great. I felt the vibes of the spectators. At the beginning, I had some struggles with the energy of the crowd and the pressure I felt. But I took it step by step and told myself what I had to do. So I got into the competition well. At the end it was very tight. I followed the results of the other jumpers and was not sure about my medal because I knew that the others could jump further than me. I still do not realize that I won the gold medal. I am so pleased”.
Maryna Bekh: “This competition was a physical and mental fight with myself. After the first attempt – 6.60, I knew it would not be enough for a medal. I still expected Sawyers to go further because she always used to go in front of me at the competitions. but I was ready to add something more”.
Shara Proctor: “That definitely made it worth it for me – the fact that I had to battle a bunch of other talented women; the wind, the atmosphere – they were cheering for the Germans of course so I had to use that energy to propel me. The winds – it was difficult because I had to keep on adjusting. That felt a little bit different on the runway, I’m experienced though so I had to use that to the best of my ability. I came away with a medal, I’m not happy with a bronze. I wanted a gold, but you know what? It’s better to have that than to not – so I am satisfied”.
Jazmin Sawyers: “really, really, really did my best. 4th in Europe. I’m proud of myself, I’m proud of how I competed, but god, it still hurts. But I’m glad it hurts this much, it shows how much I want it. There’s still plenty of time for a ‘next time'”.
There could only be one winner but all four – and more – contributed to a great competition.