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Mike Powell: The Amazing Long Jump World Record Holder and His Achievements


In 1991, Mike Powell leaped into the history books when he jumped a distance of 8.95m  during the World Championships. He still holds this record, which only shows how difficult it is to cover that distance. Afterward, he became a coach. In this post, we look into his career.

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Mike Powell’s Early Days

Mike Powell: The Amazing Long Jump World Record Holder and His Achievements
Mike Powell, the current World record holder in the Long Jump. Source: Wikimedia licensed by  CC-BY-SA-4.0

Mike Powell was born on 10 November 1963 in Philadelphia. Initially, Powell played basketball but switched to the long jump in his last year in high school after a few outstanding performances. 

In 1981, he represented his school, Edgewood High, at the CIF California Meet and finished second. Powell joined the University of California Irvine as a track & field athlete and later went to its Los Angeles branch. 

Unfortunately, his college career was hampered by injury and fouls that stopped him from making an impact at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) competitions.

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Professional Long Jumper

Going into the professional world, Mike Powell knew he had to solve his fouling problem. He hired Randy Huntington, and he corrected his problem. By the end of his first competitive year, Powell was the 6th best jumper in the world. In 1988, the athlete attended his first Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, winning a silver medal. 

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Long Jump Record

Mike Powell was at the World Championships in Tokyo, Japan, three years later, where he made history. He broke a 23-year-long record by Bob Beamon after he jumped a distance of 8.95 meters.

Recalling the day Mike Powell told World Athletics he was chasing one of the best long jumpers, Carl Lewis. “Carl had broken the world record in the 100m. He always began strongly and I had a slow start, so I knew I had to catch up and close the gap.”

Even so, something was different this time around, and Powell felt it. “I felt special when I first stepped on the track before the competition day. It was a fast, hard, but bouncy surface, which was great for me. It was the kind of record Bob Beamon had when he broke the record.”

He goes on to admit that he was intentional about breaking the world record. On the day, his jump of 7.85m was far off Carl, who leaped to 8.68m. “Carl was consistent, but for me, I had to figure out things along the way.”

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Mike Powell’s Moment

His next jump was 8.54m, and Mike Powell knew he had a great chance of breaking the record. However, it wasn’t easy because Carl put in a string of impeccable performances. After Carl’s 8.91m jump, it seemed as though the record was going to be his, but Powell couldn’t fathom the idea of losing out.

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“At that moment, I felt angry and I was rearing to go. After my jump, the crowd cheered loudly and I heard some people shout world record. I felt so good because I had a really good jump and knew I went past him. When I saw the board, I was so happy. “

However, Carl Lewis had two more chances to break the record. To Powell’s delight, Lewis never went past 8.95m, and the record was his. 

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Post World Record

Powell was the best long jumper in the world. In the subsequent events after 1991, he won another silver medal at the Barcelona Olympics the following year. 

At the World Athletics championship in 1993 and 1995, he finished first and third, respectively. 

His last major competition was the 1996 Olympics. Powell came fifth in the competition and afterwards, retired from the sport. 

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Post Retirement

Mike Powell joined the media after his long jumping career. He worked for YahooSport and NBC during their international track & field events. Additionally, Powell is a coach at UCLA. 

Mike Powell will always be in the history book not just for the record but also for the length of time he’s held it. Do you think someone else will ever break the world record? 

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