Α Predictive Analysis and the Evolution of the Long Jump in Athletics

One of the most exciting and difficult sports in athletics is the long jump. The sport derives from the Ancient Olympic Games, as being the only jumping event of the Ancient Olympic’s pentathlon. As a sport the long jump (also called as broad jump) is a track and field event in which athletes combine speed, strength and agility in an attempt to leap as far as possible from a take-off point. Along with the triple jump, the other event that also measure jumping for distance, as a group, are referred to as the “horizontal jumps”.

Abstract

The main objective of the research is to thoroughly analyze one of the most ancient sports in athletics; the long jump. The mentioned analysis will be focused mostly, on the historical data of the sport during the top two athletics events; the Olympic Games and the World Championship event. Moreover, the research presents, a graphical evolution of the long jump world record through the years. All of the abovementioned analysis are categorized and referred on both genders.

The research begins with a briefly introduction about the history of the sport. The next part of the research, explains briefly the evolution of the sport through the years and presents the best countries based on their achievements in the history of the sport. Finally, the last part consists of a predictive analysis for the next year, examining whether or not the long jump world record can be broken. For the predictive analysis, the researcher used the statistical method, ‘Forecast’.

Introduction

The long jump in the past, was formerly performed from both standing and running starts, as separate events. The standing long jump is no longer included in major competitions and it was also discontinued from the Olympic Games after 1912. On the other hand, the running long jump, which is the sport that will be analyzed thoroughly on this research, originated from the Ancient Olympic Games and was firstly included in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896.

The long jump, as any other sport in athletics is carried out under specific standard international rules and regulations, which are set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Data Collection & Methodology

The researcher collected any related historical data for the long jump. The collected data, dated back to 1896 (the year of the first modern Olympic Games) and distinguished based on the gender of the athletes. The data that referred to female athletes, dated back to 1948, the year that the sport was firstly introduced to the women athletics program of the modern Olympic Games. After the data collection, the researcher proceeded with the analysis and the drawn of conclusions by using some data engineering techniques.

The last part of the research, consists of a predictive analysis about the sport for the upcoming years. Therefore, it was used the well known predictive method of ‘Forecast’ for the analysis.

History of the Long Jump

The long jump originated back to 708 B.C., as it was part of the pentathlon event in the Ancient Olympic Games in Greece (the other events were: wrestling, running, discus and javelin throwing).

The long jump as it is known today, has been part of the Olympics since the first Games in 1896, that were hosted in Athens. Since then, it has been included every Olympic Games that have been oragnized, although that women did not compete until the 1948 Games in London, UK. In 1912, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was created to govern the long jump and other track and field sports, which were standardized in 1932. Since then, every long jump game or competition is hosted under the IAAF’s rules and regulations.

American and European athletes are dominating the long jump event for men. Some of the most famous American long jumpers are: Jesse Owens, who jumped 8.13m in 1935. Owens’ record lasted for more than 30 years. In the Olympic Games of 1968, another American athlete Bob Beamon flew out to 8.90m in the rarefied air of Mexico City. The latter mark stood until another American athlete, Mike Powell beat it, with a leap of 8.95m at the 1991 World Championship. Powell’s record is until nowadays the world record for the men long jump.

On the other hand, the Russia, Germany and USA are the top countries in the long jump events for women. The world record for women, belongs to the Russian athlete, Galina Chistyakova with 7.52m. Chistyakova set the record almost 30 years ago, in 1988. The Olympic and World records for both genders will be analyzed thoroughly on the next part of the research.

Nowadays, the top jumpers for both genders are from Africa, USA and Europe. During the last Olympic Games (Rio 2016) more than 60 countries competed in the long jump event.

Results & Discussion

The Evolution of Long Jump in Olympic Games

As it is mentioned above,  long jump is dated back to the ancient Greek Olympic Games. So, if proper statistics were available, a modern world record-holder could claim to be the greatest long jumper in more than 2,600 years. There is recorded evidence of an ancient jumper surpassing 7m, although that his technique was different – he carried hand weights, for example – and Greek officials sadly neglected IAAF’s monitoring standards for wind speed, drug testing, etc.

Men Long Jump Evolution

The United States are dominating the long jump world record charts and US athletes such as Myer Prinstein and Alvin Kraenzlein held generally recognized world records in the late 1890s. But, the first long jump world record holder recognized by the IAAF, was the Irish Peter O’Connor. O’Connor leaped 7.61m in Dublin in 1901, a performance that was later recognized by the IAAF as the first men’s long jump world record. The graph below, presents the evolution of the long jump world record for men.

 

 

In 1935 the American, Jesse Owens set a record of 8.13m that was not broken until 1960. Similarly, another US athlete Bob Beamon, broken the previous record by jumping 8.90m in 1968, a record that lasted until 1991. Nowadays, the world record belongs to the American Mike Powell, who leapt 8.95m in 1991. This unbelivable record is unbroken for more than 25 years.

Olympic Games & World Championships Records

The following graph presents the corresponding Olympic Games records during the final event of the sport.

 

 

The American athlete Ellery Clark, who leapt 6.35m, won the first golden Olympic medal, during the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. So far, the Olympic record, belongs to another famous American athlete Carl Lewis, who jumped 8.72m during the Games of 1988. Carl Lewis is among the best athletes in the history of the sport, as he has won four consecutive Olympic golden medals between 1984 and 1996. He has also won two World Championships (1983 & 1987).

The corresponding graph for the evolution of the long jump World Championship record during the final event is depicted below.

 

As it is mentioned above, Carl Lewis won the first two World Championships in 1983 and 1987, by leaping 8.55m and 8.67m correspondingly. Although, the best World Championship record, which is also the World Record for the long jump, belongs to another American athlete; Mike Powell, who “flew” to 8.95m in 1991. Another interesting fact for the World Championship long jump event, is that the best Cuban jumper athlete; Ivan Pedroso has won four consecutive finals between 1995 and 2001.

The Most Successful Countries in the Men Long Jump

In general, American and European athletes are dominating the long jump event for men. Without any doubt, USA is the most successful country in the history of the Olympic Games. As it is depicted below, American athletes have won so far, 22 out of 28 long jump golden Olympic medals.

 

The same observation, can be noticed for the World Championships. USA has the highest success rate with a winning percentage of 50%. Carl Lewis, Mike Powell and Dwight Phillips have won 8 golden World Championship medals, representing the United States. Cuba, with Ivan Pedroso is in the second place with a winning percentage rate of 25%. The other countries that have won either an Olympic or a World Championship golden medal are; Russia, Panama, Great Britain, Germany, South Africa and Sweden.

 

Women Long Jump Evolution

The IAAF recognized for the first time women’s long jump world record performances in 1922. In the early years of women’s long jump – which didn’t become an Olympic sport until 1948 – several world record performances represented significant increases from the previous world marks. But in later decades the world record literally inched forward slowly. The world record for women remains unbroken for more than 30 years.

 

 

Marie Mejzlikova, an athlete from Czechoslovakia achieved the first universally recognized women’s long jump world record with a leap at 5.16m in 1922. While Galina Chistyakova, as of 2018 remains the all-time long jump queen and owns the long jump world record from 1988, when she jumped at 7.52m.

Olympic Games & World Championships Records

The following graph presents the corresponding Olympic Games records during the final event of the sport.

 

Olga Gyarmati from Hungary, was the first female long jump athlete, who won the first golden Olympic medal, during the Olympic Games of 1948. The Olympic Games record belongs to the American athlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee who leaped 7.40 in the Games of 1988. Jackie is known as one of the best women’s track and field stars in the history of the sport. Jackie holds the 2nd best jump in the event’s history with a jump at 7.49m. Tianna Bartoleta from United States won the golden Olympic medal during the last Olympic Games in 2016, by jumping 7.17m. Bartoleta has also won the first place in the 2015 World Championship.

The corresponding graph for the evolution of the long jump World Championship record during the final event is depicted below.

 

Heike Daute-Drechsler from Germany has won the first golden World Championship medal in 1983. During her career, Heike Drechsler, has also won two Olympic, two World and four consecutive European titles, being one of the best athletes in the sport; having the 3rd best women record in the history of the sport, with 7.48m. An interesting observation is that during the last five World Championships, the winner was from the United States. Brittney Reese with four golden World Championship medals and Tianna Bartoletta with one golden medal are among the best athletes during the last two decades.

The Most Successful Countries in the Women Long Jump

In general, American and European athletes are dominating the long jump event for women as well. Germany, USA and Russia are the best three countries in the women Olympic Games event. Germany, with 4 golden Olympic medals, has a winning percentage rate of 22,2%, while USA and Russia with 3 golden Olympic medals, have a corresponding winning percentage rate of almost 17%.

 

 

Almost the same observation, can be noticed for the World Championships. USA has the highest success rate with a winning percentage of 50%. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Tianna Madison, Brittney Reese and Tianna Bartoletta have won in total 8 World Championships. While Germany and Russia have won 2 World Championships so far.

 

 

Modern Day

Today, European and American athletes are dominating the long jump events at the Olympic Games and the World Championships in both genders. The long jump for both men and women has until nowadays the oldest world record, as it remains unbroken for more than 20 years. Although, that during the last years, the equipment of the athletes has been improved. Athletes, wear lighter and better shoes as well as and they use more advanced long jump techniques in order to jump longer, none male athlete has beaten so far the 8.95m and the 7.52m for women. The main question in the sport is whether or not someone will break these records in the near future.

 A “Forecasted” Prediction for the Long Jump

Based on the historical data that were analyzed thoroughly above, the researcher used the mathematical method “Forecast” to predict the evolution of the records in the upcoming years. “Forecast” is a method which is used commonly for predictions and has a confidence level of 95%. The predictive analysis for both genders is shown below on the graphs.

As it can be observed, for men it has been predicted that jumpers will reach a jump close to 8.65m, which is going to be the best jump during the last two decade, but the world record will remain unbroken. The corresponding predictive record for women is almost 7.19m, which is really close to Tianna’s Bartoletta record in 2015 (7.14m).

Summary

To sum up, the long jump, that was a part of the pentathlon event in the ancient Olympic Games, is considered as one of the most ancient sports in athletics. American and European athletes are dominating the sport in both genders. The Russian Galina Chistyakova with 7.52m and the American Mike Powell, who leapt 8.95m own the long jump world records for women and men correspondingly. The interesting fact, is that both records reamain unbroken for more than 25 years. Galina set the record in 1988, while Mike Powell set his unbelievable record in 1991. Finally, as it analyzed and predicted on the last part of the research these two world records will not be broken within the next few years.

 


Bibliography

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iaaf.org. (2018). IAAF: Long Jump. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/SwU5oy [Accessed 30 Aug. 2018].

Newworldencyclopedia.org. (2018). Long jump – New World Encyclopedia. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/4wgUDY [Accessed 30 Aug. 2018].

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www.tutorialspoint.com. (2018). Long Jump Overview. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/DwvpPi [Accessed 30 Aug. 2018].

ThoughtCo. (2018). The World Record Progression in the Men’s Long Jump: 1901 to Today. [online] Available at: https://goo.gl/sRRE69 [Accessed 30 Aug. 2018].

I believe in the proverb of Plutarch: "exercise without physical qualifications and knowledge is incomplete". As an ambitious data scientist, I'm always aiming to broaden my knowledge by interpreting & managing data in order to solve complex problems. In Statathlon, I'm combining my main passions: sports & data science

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