23 November 2012 – Barcelona, Spain – The 1968 Olympic Long Jump champion Bob Beamon, who still remains the second best jumper of all-time after his historic leap of 8.90m, appeared at the press point at the IAAF Centenary Gala in Barcelona. These were some of the highlights.
Bob Beamon (USA)
Can you take us back to that memorable day in 1968 when you won an Olympic gold medal with a world record jump?
First of all, I always felt I was going to be the Olympic champion. I said to myself at the top of the runaway ahead of my first jump, ‘This will be my day’. However, my first jump was supposed to be an easy one, I’d had problems in qualifying I just wanted to see the white flag go up.
But I jumped 8.90m. After, that I felt I had nine metres in me, if not that day.
How much of a factor was Mexico City’s high altitude?
I don’t think it (the altitude) had much to do with it … but if it did then I’ll take it. I went back to Mexico City a little later and lived there for about a year and I had a hard time just running and training.
Jesse Owens was part of the USA team management at the 1968 Olympic Games. What was your relationships like with him?
Jesse is still known as the ‘Gentle Giant’ and that’s what he was. Jesse inspired just about all of us. I sat down and talked to him after I made my jump. He gave me some good advice about how to deal with the future and what was going to happen. I think the same thing must have happened to him after what he did in 1936.
Should Usain Bolt try the Long Jump?
How good looking is he? You’ve got to be good looking (laughs). No, it comes down to the ability to want it, be aggressive, crazy, eat it, sleep it. I always visualized being on the podium and getting a gold medal if not, maybe, a world record.
What was your reaction when Mike Powell broke your world record back in 1991?
What can I say about Mike … I wanted to strangle him (laughs). Mike is a wonderful human being but he also has within himself that dream, that aggressiveness, he wanted to be number one.
What is Bob Beamon doing these days?
I’m Chief Executive Officer at Art of the Olympians Museum in Fort Myers, Florida, which was founded by my Mexico City teammate Al Oerter and his wife Cathy in 2005. It shows that Olympians can have another life we have got art from more than 100 Olympians.
I believe Olympians can inspire and one of the things we do is give disadvantaged kids the chance to go to college and we have raised $12 million that has paid for tuition fees, books and things like that.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF