There are four jumping events in field athletics: high jump, long jump, triple jump and pole vault. There are four main principles which are applied to all jumping events:
- Starting run – this is the period of time where the athlete gathers speed for the take-off. The faster the athlete runs, the more force there is to be converted into the jump.
- Take off – this is the transition between the run and the jump with the athlete propelling their body into the air. In the case of the triple jump the propulsion of the body is delayed with a hop, step and jump preceding the take off.
- Flight – this is the period of time when the body is airborne, sending them horizontally away from the starting point in the long jump or triple jump and vertically over the bar in the high jump.
- Landing – this is the point at which the athlete finishes the jump marking the distance (in the case of the long jump and triple jump) that they have travelled through the air. The landing area is a sand pit for the long jump and triple jump and a mattress for the high jump and pole vault.
In the high jump event, athletes sprint down a runway towards a four metre long horizontal bar and jump vertically over the bar on to a cushioned mattress. The crossbar is increased in height as the competition progresses and more competitors are knocked out. There are various methods of jumping over the bar but the most common is known as the ‘Fosbury Flop,’ where the athlete curves the direction of the run during their last four strides, twisting over the bar and landing on to their back. Whatever their chosen method of jumping over the bar, all contestants are required to make the take off from one foot. Athletes are allowed to touch the crossbar as they jump over but if the bar falls off the vertical supports, the jump is classified as a failure. After three failed jumps a contestant is eliminated from the competition.
Record Breakers: Men: Javier Sotomayor (CUB) – 2.45 m, 27/07/1993
Women: Stefka Kostadinova (BUL) – 2.09 m, 20/08/1987
The long jump requires athletes to sprint down a runway and jump off a raised platform into a stretch of sand or other marked area, with the aim of landing as far from the starting point as possible. The distance travelled is measured by the first mark made by the athlete’s body in the sand on landing. The jump is classified as a fail if any part of the contestant’s body touches the ground between take-off and landing. The jump is also a fail if the athlete leaves the runway after the take-off line at the end of the take-off board.
Record Breakers: Men: Mike Powell (USA) – 8.95 m, 30/08/1991
Women: Galina Chistyakova (URS) – 7.52 m, 11/06/1988
Also known as ‘the hop, step and jump’ the triple jump requires the athlete to begin with speed but to maintain energy for the take-off. The triple jump begins with a sprint down the runway and is followed by a hop, a step and a jump before the athlete propels their body into the air, with the aim of landing as far from the starting point as possible, in the same manner as the long jump. When the athlete hops, they must land on the same foot as they began sprinting on and the step should land on the opposite foot. As with the long jump, no part of the body must touch the ground between jumping and landing and the jump is classified as a fail if the athlete begins jumping after the take-off line.
Record Breakers: Men: Jonathon Edwards (GBR) – 18.29 m, 07/08/1995
Women: Inessa Kravets (UKR) – 15.50 m, 10/08/1995
The pole vault requires the athlete to clear the height of a horizontal bar with the assistance of a vertical pole, with the bar increasing in height as more athletes are eliminated from the competition. The athlete begins the jump by sprinting down a runway and then plants the pole into a box in front of the bar, using the pole to power over the bar. As with the high jump, a pole vault is classified as a fail if the contestant knocks the bar down during the vault and after three failed attempts the athlete is then eliminated from the competition.
Record Breakers: Men: Sergey Bubka (UKR) – 6.14 m, 31/07/1994
Women: Stacy Dragila (USA) – 4.81 m, 09/06/2001