Gravity Couldn’t Stop Bob Beamon’s Long Jump World Record

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When the student becomes better than the teacher, then it bodes well for everyone involved. This was the case for Bob Beamon and Ralph Boston. By the time the latter met the former, he was at the peak of his career and took Beamon under his wing. 

He went on and surpassed his mentor’s record and today, Beamon is still remembered as one of the best long jumpers of all time. 

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Bob Beamon’s Early Life

spotcovery-Gravity Couldn't Stop Bob Beamon's Long Jump World Record
Bob Beamon at a commemoration service of his Olympic record. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

It wasn’t always easy for Bob Beamon. His mother died when he was barely a year old and his father was abusive. As a result, his brother was born with brain damage and he was on the receiving end of his father’s wrath. 

Beamon himself was involved in violence. He joined a gang in his home area of South Jamaica in New York City and was expelled from school after a fight. As a result, he was sent to a detention center. There, he got into sports to stay out of trouble.

He broke a couple of records and after high school, relocated to Carolina. After her death, Beamon joined the University of Texas-El Paso.

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College Career

At university, Beamon excelled. He broke the triple jump record and was a silver medalist at the Pan American Games. After the killing of Martin Luther King, Beamon and other black students were suspended from the team after they refused to compete against Brigham Young University

He lost his sports scholarship. Ralph Boston showed solidarity and decided to train Bob Beamon. 

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Mexico Olympics 1968

Beamon’s world record in the long jump. Video Credit: Team USA

At the event, he was the favorite to win the gold medal in his discipline. He almost missed the Olympic final after wrongly doing the routine twice. However, on his third attempt, Beamon succeeded and made it to the final. He faced Ralph Boston, Igor Ter-Ovanesyan and Lynn Davis. 

He clinched the gold medal in style, jumping into the world record books after an 8.90m leap. The strange thing is that he didn’t even realize he’d broken the record, as he didn’t understand metric measurements. 

It’s his only medal in the Olympics, but one that captured history. Previously, the record was broken by smaller margins (6cm and 15cm), but he was by 55cm. 

No one thought Beamon’s record would ever ffall,all but Mike Powell defied gravity and leapt to 8.95m to break it. To date, it remains the longest jump in the sport.

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After Olympics

After his heroics in Mexico, Beamon switched to basketball. The Phoenix Suns drafted him in 1969, but fans never got a chance to watch him. He moved on and worked with different organizations with the interest of developing young athletes. He also coached at Alliant International University

Bob Beamon used his platform to raise awareness about racial injustice. He put his career on the line for the betterment of the lives of black people. Even though he lost his scholarship at university, he achieved greater things and cemented his legacy in the Olympics. 

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