In the Long Jump, an athlete uses a runway to get speed and momentum, before jumping off one foot and landing in a sand-filled landing area. The point of take-off is dictated by a take-off board, with a take-off line at the front. An athlete’s foot must not be beyond this line when taking off. A strip of plasticine is placed just in front of the line to help the judge see if the jump is valid. If a jump is good – the athlete has not contravened any rules – a judge raises a white flag. If not, a red flag is raised, indicating a ‘no jump’.
The distance of the jump is measured from the take-off line to the mark in the sand made by the athlete that is closest to the line.
Athletes start with a qualifying round. Jumping in turn, each athlete gets three attempts to achieve the qualifying distance. Once all jumps have been completed all athletes who have achieved the qualifying distance go through to the final. If fewer than 12 athletes achieve the qualifying standard, the best 12 athletes go through.
In the final, athletes have three initial jumps, with the top eight after the first three rounds then having a further three jumps. The athlete who jumps the furthest is the winner.
Keys to success
To achieve the maximum possible distance, every aspect of the jump must be perfect, including the run-up. Athletes take great care in working out the exact position they start from, ensuring it suits their stride pattern and provides them with the best possible take-off.
Breaking the rules
A fraction of a centimetre over the take-off board results in a ‘no jump’, and the distance will not count.
Find out more about the Men's Long Jump competition at the Olympic Games on the International Olympic Committee website.