A Page From the history of High Jump

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High jump is one of the oldest track field events in sporting history. It involves jumping over a bar placed at a certain height without any aids. It is a game of Scottish origin and the oldest records are from the nineteenth century. There were many techniques used by the jumpers to increase the length they covered. Some of the early techniques were a straight-on approach or the scissors technique. The game has been in practice since the Olympics of ancient Greece.

In the scissoring technique, the High jumper is supposed to approach the bar diagonally, the first leg to be thrown in is the inside leg with the other following in a scissoring kind of motion. The twentieth century saw a modernisation in the techniques; the first innovation was the eastern cut-off by an Irish-American high jumper called M.F. Sweeney. The technique involved taking off like the scissors but then the player would extend his back and flatten out over the bar. He had set a world record of 1.97m in 1895. M.F. Horine, an American player again, has to his credit, the invention of the western roll. This style also has a diagonal approach to the bar. The difference is that it uses the inner leg to take off while the outer leg thrusts itself up and leads the body sideways to cross the bar. Horine has the name of the world record owner for the year 1912; he jumped 2.01m or 6 ft 7 in.

The western roll was very popular in the Berlin Olympics and helped Cornelius Johnson win the event with a 2.03m long jump. After 1912 the sport was ruled by American and Russian jumpers for the next forty years. Another technique that evolved during that time as a sister to the western roll was the straddle technique. This one, took off in the same way as the western roll but then the player would roll with his/her belly down around the bar the clearance this technique achieved was phenomenal. It also helped Charles Dumas achieve the much coveted 7ft length in 1956. Many jumpers exceeded this record and then came Valery Brumel who stood unfettered from 1960 till 1964 when he won the Olympic gold medal for running up till 7ft and 6 inches. But his career came to a sad and abrupt end in a motorbike accident shortly after that, ending with it the many hopes of future achievements that he had given his coaches, fans and supporters.

Since its beginning high jumpers have been very experimenting with their techniques and that has made the game achieve its current set of rules and status. The current and the longest standing record in men’s history was made by Javier Sotomayor from Cuba, his jump was 2.45 metres i.e. 8ft 0.46 in long and the record has not been broken since the year 1993. The longest women’s record is accredited to Stefka Kostadinova of Bulgaria since 1987 for a 2.09 metres or a 6 ft 10.28 in long high jump.

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