Six seconds. That's all it took for Bob Beamon to leap into history. That's all it took for the slender 22-year-old long jumper to speed 19 strides down the runway, ascend to a height of six feet, stay up in the air like a bird and finally land an incomprehensible 29 feet, 2½ inches later. Of all Olympic records, none is as impressive as the one Beamon stunningly set Oct. 18, 1968 in Mexico City.
Beamon didn't just set a record; he shattered one. He had leaped where no one had gone before. Not only did he become the first 29-foot long jumper that evening; he became the first to pass 28 feet, too.
Records are supposed to be broken by inches, not by demolition. Not Beamon. He snapped the existing mark by almost two feet. He had jumped one foot, 10½ inches farther than his previous best.