Olympic Men’s Long Jump — Cool, Calm & Collected

Miltiádis Tentóglou of Greece came through with the gold-winning jump on his last try. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

“I ALWAYS HAVE SOMETHING IN RESERVE,” said Miltiádis Tentóglou. With a dramatic effort on his final leap, the 23-year-old Greek had vaulted himself from 4th to the gold by spanning 27-7¼ (8.41), stealing the event from a pair of Cuban stars who had held the top two spots throughout most of the competition.

One of the crucial turns took place in Saturday evening’s qualifying when favored Tajay Gayle, the reigning world champion, fouled his first attempt and crashed his second, writhing with an injury to his left knee. He returned for a third attempt, heavily taped, switched his takeoff leg and qualified with a 26-8½ (8.14).

Juan Miguel Echevarría marked his place as the new favorite with a 27-10¾ (8.50) as yearly world leader Tentóglou qualified with a 26-11¾ (8.22). JuVaughn Harrison, who had qualified for the high jump final on Friday morning, leaped 26-8¼ (8.13). He was the only American to make the final, as Steffin McCarter (26-0/7.92) and Marquis Dendy (25-9¼/7.85) came up short.

The Monday morning final saw Cuba’s Maykel Massó leap 26-11¼ (8.21) in the last jump of an opening round that otherwise seemed tepid. Tentóglou sat in silver position at 26-7¼ (8.11) and Echevarría came next at 26-6½ (8.09). Harrison, perhaps drained from the previous night’s high jump final, where he finished 7th, managed only a lackadaisical 24-10 (7.57). Gayle, still showing pain, fouled.

In round 2, Echevarría put out a monster jump, but his forefoot was clearly over the board. The only significant change came from Spaniard Eusebio Cáceres, who took over the bronze spot with his own 26-6½ (8.09). Harrison improved to 25-3¼ (7.70), a mark that put him into 9th. For Gayle, another foul.

Echevarría owned round 3, spanning an impressive 27-7¼ (8.41) on the opening jump to claim the lead, despite taking off some 22cm before the board. Teammate Massó had been injured on his second jump and was forced to pass the rest of the competition.

Tentóglou struggled with his own problems, fouling a second time. Harrison improved to 26-1¼ (7.96), just enough to get three more attempts. Gayle wasn’t so lucky. Forced to try for a safe jump, he reached only 25-2¾ (7.69) for 11th.

Round 4 produced no improvements, though Tentóglou got a second fair one in nearly as long as his first at 26-7 (8.10). In the next stanza, Harrison came alive with a 26-9 to slide into the bronze position. That would be short-lived, as Tentóglou improved to a 26-9 of his own to bump Harrison out by virtue of the next best leap. That would prove to be more crucial later.

For an event that lacked a bit of adrenaline — the small crowd of fellow athletes and team officials was notably quiet compared to the high jump the previous night — the jumpers produced genuine drama in the final round.

Harrison, surely out to gamble with his last shot, instead broke down in mid-air, landing at 24-7 (7.49) He would finish 5th. Sweden’s Thobias Montler launched a beautiful leap that put him in gold territory — but for a foul of less than an inch. He would place 7th. Cáceres hit his best mark of the night to move to bronze at 26-10 (8.18).

Then came Tentóglou’s moment. The ’18 European champion gathered himself at the head of the runway for the penultimate attempt of the day, then sprinted in the hopes that this was it. It was. He soared to his 27-7¼ (8.41), a mark that matched Echevarría’s leader but was backed by a better second effort.

Echevarría, suddenly behind, walked to the runway feeling the most pressure of his life. The World bronze medalist, in his first Olympics, needed just a 26-9¼ (8.16), to reclaim his gold. It was a mark that he had bettered in all but one of his meets this season. But as he neared peak velocity approaching the board, something gave. He fell to the ground in agony, reaching the takeoff board only to kneel over it sobbing. Massó ran over to comfort his friend and teammate.

Tentóglou took his victory calmly: “I am always like this. It’s not just today, showing no emotion.” Of his big jump he said, “I told myself to calm down and do a normal jump. I didn’t expect it could be so big. I consider myself lucky.” It was the first time a Greek had won any color of long jump medal at the Games.

Echevarría was clearly not so lucky. “It was very, very painful. I couldn’t do what I usually do. I have no words to express how I feel because I couldn’t achieve what I wanted, what I have been fighting for for so many years.”


MEN’S LONG JUMP RESULTS

(August 02) (temperature 86–91F/30–33C; humidity 65–60%)

(winds ranged from +1.3 to –0.4)

1. Miltiádis Tentóglou (Gre) 27-7¼ (8.41)

(26-7¼, f, f, 26-7, 26-9, 27-7¼) (8.11, f, f, 8.10, 8.15, 8.41);

2. Juan Miguel Echevarría (Cub) 27-7¼ (8.41)

(26-6½, f, 27-7¼, 22-¼, p, f) (8.09, f, 8.41, 6.71, p, f);

3. Maykel Massó (Cub) 26-11¼ (8.21)

(26-11¼, 26-5, p, p, p, p) (8.21, 8.05, p, p, p, p);

4. Eusebio Cáceres (Spa) 26-10 (8.18)

(26-1½, 26-6½, f, f, 26-7¾, 26-10) (7.96, 8.09, f, f, 8.12, 8.18);

5. JuVaughn Harrison (US) 26-9 (8.15)

(24-10, 25-3¼, 26-1½, 25-10, 26-9, 24-7) (7.57, 7.70, 7.96, 7.87, 8.15, 7.49);

6. Yuki Hashioka (Jpn) 26-7 (8.10)

(f, 26-1, 26-1¾, f, 26-¾, 26-7) (f, 7.95, 7.97, f, 7.94, 8.10);

7. Thobias Montler (Swe) 26-6¼ (8.08)

(26-6¼, 26-¼, f, 26-5, f, f) (8.08, 7.93, f, 8.05, f, f);

8. Filippo Randazzo (Ita) 26-2¾ (7.99)

(f, 26-2¾, f, f, 25-10¼, f) (f, 7.99, f, f, 7.88, f);

9. Kristian Pulli (Fin) 26-0 (7.92)

(25-9¼, 26-0, 25-10¼) (7.85, 7.92, 7.88);

10. Changzhou Huang (Chn) 25-4 (7.72)

(f, 24-7¼, 25-4) (f, 7.50, 7.72);

11. Tajay Gayle (Jam) 25-2¾ (7.69)

(f, f, 25-2¾) (f, f, 7.69);

12. Fabian Heinle (Ger) 25-0 (7.62)

(17-0, 24-10, 25-0) (5.18, 7.57, 7.62).

first 3 rounds
Echevarría 8.09* f 8.41*¶
Cáceres 7.96 8.09 f
Montler 8.08¶ 7.93 f
Gayle f f 7.69¶
Huang f 7.50 7.72¶
Randazzo f 7.99¶ f
Pulli 7.85 7.92¶ 7.88
Heinle 5.18 7.57 7.62¶
Harrison 7.57 7.70 7.96
Tentóglou 8.11* f f
Hashioka f 7.95 7.97
Massó 8.21*¶ 8.05 p
rounds 4–5
Harrison 7.87 8.15¶
Hashioka f 7.94
Randazzo f 7.88
Montler 8.05 f
Cáceres f 8.12
Tentóglou 8.10 8.15
Massó p p
Echevarría 6.71 p
final round
Hashioka 8.10¶
Randazzo f
Montler f
Cáceres 8.18¶
Harrison 7.49
Tentóglou 8.41*¶
Massó p
Echevarría f

QUALIFYING (July 31; auto-qualifier 26-9/8.15)

Qualifiers: Echevarría 27-10¾ (8.50), Tentóglou 26-11¾ (8.22), Hashioka 26-9¾ (8.17), Gayle 26-8½ (8.14), Harrison 26-8¼ (8.13), Randazzo 26-7 (8.10), Massó 26-5¾ (8.07), Montler 26-3½ (8.01), Cáceres 26-2¼ (7.98), Heinle, Huang & Pulli 26-1½ (7.96);

Non-qualifiers: Emiliano Lasa (Uru) 26-1 (7.95), Henry Frayne (Aus) 26-¼ (7.93), Steffin McCarter (US) 26-0 (7.92), Samory Fraga (Bra) 25-10¼ (7.88), Xinglong Gao (Chn) 25-9½ (7.86), Izmir Smajlaj (Alb) 25-9½ (7.86), Marquis Dendy (US) 25-9¼ (7.85), Jianan Wang (Chn) 25-7½ (7.81), Carey McLeod (Jam) 25-5¼ (7.75), Ruswahl Samaai (SA) 25-4¾ (7.74), Shoutarou Shiroyama (Jpn) 25-3¼ (7.70), Lester Lescay (Cub) 25-2¾ (7.69), Murali Sreeshankar (Ind) & Hibiki Tsuha (Jpn) 24-11¾ (7.61), Vladyslav Mazur (Ukr) 24-11¼ (7.60), Bachana Khorava (Geo) 24-3¾ (7.41), Alexsandro Melo (Bra) 22-9¾ (6.95). ◻︎

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