How it works
Competitors sprint along a runway before taking off from a wooden board. The take-off foot absorbs the first landing, the hop. The next phase, the step, is finished on the opposite foot and then followed by a jump into a sandpit. The distance travelled, from the edge of the board to the closest indentation in the sand to it, is then measured.
A foul is committed – and the jump is not measured – if an athlete steps beyond the board.
Most championship competitions involve six jumps per competitor, although usually a number of them, those with the shorter marks, are often eliminated after three jumps. If competitors are tied, the athlete with the next best distance is declared the winner.
At the inaugural modern Olympic Games in 1896, the event consisted of two hops and a jump but the format of a hop, a skip, a jump – hence its alternative name which was still in common usage until recently – was standardised in 1908.
Did you know
When Great Britain’s Jonathan Edwards set the current world record of 18.29m to win at the 1995 IAAF World Championships, he jumped a distance in excess of the width of a football penalty box.
Soviet jumper Viktor Saneyev from Georgia won three consecutive Olympic titles from 1968 to 1976. The only men to win more than once at the IAAF World Championships is Jonathan Edwards, who was victorious in 1995 and 2001, and Christian Taylor, who won in 2011 and 2015.
The best ever women's competition came at the 2008 Olympic Games when Cameroon's Francoise Mbango successfully defended her title from four years before with 15.39m, the second best distance ever, and six women jumped beyond 15 metres.
The Briton with the wonderfully poised technique set the current world record of 18.29m when winning the first of his two world titles in 1995; the second came in 2001. He also took the 2000 Olympic gold medal and won at the 1998 European Championships and 2002 Commonwealth Games.
The Russian, who regularity sports brightly coloured hair styles, was the world champion in 2001 and 2003. She also won at the 2004 World Indoor Championships when she bounded out to three world indoor records during the course of the competition. She produced a summer of stunning consistency in 2005 when she was the sole winner of the IAAF’s $1m Golden League Jackpot. Lebedeva also won the long jump at the 2004 Olympic Games and 2007 IAAF World Championships.