2000 Sydney Olympics Long Jump Final: Pedroso vs. Taurima

In contrast to the sprint events, the jumping events are prolonged athletic spectacles. The jumpers can reign in crowd support by the rhythmic clapping prior to each jump. It brings the crowd into the action.

One of my favorite long jump competitions is the 2000 Sydney Olympics duel between the legendary Cuban, Ivan Pedroso and the audacious hometown hero, Jai Taurima.

Pedroso, a four-time World Champion, was the overwhelming favorite. On paper, the junk food eating Taurima paled in comparison to the Cuban champion. With broad jump demons Carl Lewis and Mike Powell  retired, 2000 was supposed to Pedroso’s Olympic moment.

And it almost did not happen.

Jumping Jai became the early leader (8.18m), with Pedroso fouling his 1st attempt. The Cuban leaped 8.34m to snatch the lead. Taurima matched the former’s effort, holding a slim lead with his better 1st round attempt. Pedroso, on his 3rd attempt, flew to a massive 8.41m, inching up to 1st place.

But Taurima, riding high on the electric support from the Australian crowd, made the jump of his life – leaping to 8.49m, an Australian long jump record. Prior to Sydney, Australia had never won a long jump medal, much less gold. For Taurima to perform at his very best in front of a boisterous partisan crowd – that surely takes much nerve.  After Jai’s massive mark, the unorthodox Aussie was poised to upset the Cuban champion.

Pedroso, long since relegated to the shadow of the great Carl Lewis in Olympic long jumping, refused to fade into the Australian night. In his final leap, he flew 8.55, cementing his place among the illustrious list of Olympic champions.

Video credits:

Jump4Ever

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