Triple jump, also known as the hop, step, and jump, is a highly technical and physically demanding event in track and field athletics. The goal is to cover the longest possible distance in three consecutive jumps, taking off on one foot and landing on the same foot after the final jump. Since it requires a combination of speed, power, and coordination, only a few athletes have been able to achieve remarkable feats in this discipline. Among them, one stands out as the world record holder for the triple jump: Jonathan Edwards of Great Britain.
Born on May 10, 1966, Edwards started as a long jumper and only switched to the triple jump after a long-term ankle injury. The transition turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as he quickly developed a unique style that maximized his natural abilities. Unlike most triple jumpers who focused on the third jump for the final stretch, Edwards emphasized the hop phase, where he could generate the most speed and momentum. By taking a longer step and a higher hop, he could cover more distance before the final jump and put less pressure on his body.
Edwards’ breakthrough performance came at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, where he broke the previous world record by 36 centimeters with a jump of 18.29 meters (60 feet, 0.5 inches). The jump was so impressive that it shocked the stadium and the commentator who shouted, “Good gracious me, a wind-legal world record by some margin!” Edwards himself was humbled by the achievement, saying, “I can’t believe it’s happened. I felt I had a big one in me. But to do it in the first round, I’m just overwhelmed.”
The world record was not a flash in the pan for Edwards, as he went on to set a new personal best of 18.43 meters (60 feet, 5.5 inches) two years later at the 1997 World Championships in Athens, Greece. This time, he had to fight off the challenge from his arch-rival, Kenny Harrison of the United States, who had broken Edwards’ world record in 1996 only to have it overturned due to a doping violation. In the end, Edwards proved his excellence once again and secured his place in history as the first and only person to jump over 18.40 meters.
In addition to his world records, Edwards amassed multiple titles and honors in his career, including two Olympic medals, three World Championships, and one Commonwealth Games. He retired from competitive athletics in 2003 at the age of 36, but his legacy continues to inspire young athletes around the world. His record-breaking jumps represent not only his individual achievement but also the culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and persistence. As Edwards once said, “The triple jump doesn’t come easily. I’ve had to work very hard at it, and I still feel I’ve got a lot more to achieve.”