Olympic Women’s Long Jump — A Thriller To The Very End

Germany’s Malaika Mihambo dramatically improved from the bronze position to gold in the final round. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

IN A FINAL THAT FEATURED a half-dozen lead changes it came down to almost the last jump of the competition for Germany’s Malaika Mihambo to claim the gold over favored Brittney Reese.

Coming in to Tokyo, 6 had broached the 7-meter (22-11¾) barrier in ’21, and of those, 5 were here; the other, Kendell Williams, will be in the heptathlon. All but one made it to the final, with only 3-fouling Darya Klishina falling by the wayside.

The qualifying was led by Rio bronze medalist Ivana Španović, who added herself to the 7-meter list by hitting exactly 7.00 (22-11¾). Closest to her was Mihambo (22-10¾/6.98), with Americans Reese (22-6¼/6.86) and Tara Davis (22-5¾/6.85) next.

Drawn second in the final, Reese opened with a quiet 21-8 (6.60) without touching the board. Mihambo reached 22-5 (6.83), and Brume, the yearly world leader with 23-6¼ (7.17), then took over with 22-10½ (6.97). Davis began with 21-8¾ (6.62), dropping Reese to 4th.

Reese then moved into 3rd with 22-4¼ (6.81) on her second jump, but was overtaken 2 spots later by Španović, who cleared 22-8 (6.91), and like Brume reached 22-11 from takeoff to landing. Mihambo was up next, and reached 22-9¾ (6.95) to move into the silver medal spot.

The third round saw Reese reach 22-10½ (6.97) and move into the lead ahead of Brume on the basis of better second jump. Brooke Stratton (22-5/6.83), Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (22-7/6.88) and Davis (22-4¼/6.81) all ensured they would get 3 more jumps with their third-round efforts, and Jazmin Sawyers rounded out the 8 advancers with 22-3¾ (6.80).

The only changes in the fourth stanza came with Reese and Brume reaching 22-6½ (6.87) and 22-7 (6.88), moving the Nigerian back into the lead on the countback. Španović, Mihambo and Bekh-Romanchuk all fouled to remain in 3rd-4th-5th. Davis got what would be her best of the day, 22-5¼ (6.84), to move past Stratton into 6th.

Reese remedied the loss of her leadership — again it was on the countback, not an absolute leader — with her fifth-round 22-9¾ (6.95). Nobody else changed position, so with one round remaining the jumpers who had gone 2-5-4 in Rio were 1-2-3.

None of the last round’s first 5 was able to improve, settling the medalists, but not their order. Mihambo barely reached the board, but stretched out for the only 7-meter (22-11¾) jump of the competition, a seasonal best of exactly that. Brume then cleared 22-7¾ (6.90), her second-best of the day, and Reese reached 22-5¼ (6.84). In Rio, London winner Reese had missed a repeat gold by 2cm (three-quarters of an inch) — this time it was a loss by 3.

Mihambo’s winning jump measured 23-7 (7.19) from takeoff to landing, while Reese’s 6.97 was 23-2½ (7.07) when similarly measured.

For the 27-year-old Mihambo it was the completion of a triumvirate of golds — ’18 Euros, ’19 WC, and now the Olympic title. Afterwards she said, “I knew there was more in me than 6.95 [22-9¾] and I knew I wanted to go from the stadium with a smile on my face, knowing that I gave my best. It was not about the medal, the color of the medal, for me it was about being able to give my best, so I was concentrating on the trust I have in myself and my capabilities and my inner strength. Then I felt just calm.”

Reese’s third Olympic medal cemented her record as the second most successful long jumper in Olympic history with a 1-2-2-4 record. German legend Heike Drechsler went 1-1-2 during her career.

Reese was sanguine after her final championship event, saying, “I am used to beating people on the sixth jump so it’s kind of funny to get beaten that way. But I am grateful, I am blessed. I have done all I can and it’s time to move on.”

While this wasn’t quite the closest-ever competition for medals — 2cm covering the top 3 in ’04 as compared with 3 here — it was the closest overall and best in depth, as only 8 inches (20cm) separated 1st from 8th. Places 8 & 9 were the farthest marks in any competition ever.


WOMEN’S LONG JUMP RESULTS

(August 02) (temperature 88F/31C; humidity 77–73%)

(winds varied from +1.3 to –1.6)

1. Malaika Mihambo (Ger) 22-11¾ (7.00)

(22-5, 22-9¾, 22-3, f, f, 22-11¾) (6.83, 6.95, 6.78, f, f, 7.00);

2. Brittney Reese (US) 22-10½ (6.97)

(21-8, 22-4¼, 22-10½, 22-6½, 22-9¾, 22-5¼) (6.60, 6.81, 6.97, 6.87, 6.95, 6.84);

3. Ese Brume (Ngr) 22-10½ (6.97)

(22-10½, 21-10¾, f, 22-7, f, 22-7¾) (6.97, 6.67, f, 6.88, f, 6.90);

4. Ivana Španović (Ser) 22-8 (6.91)

(22-¼, 22-8, 22-5¼, f, 21-9, 22-¾) (6.71, 6.91, 6.84, f, 6.63, 6.72);

5. Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk (Ukr) 22-7 (6.88)

(f, f, 22-7, f, f, f) (f, f, 6.88, f, f, f);

6. Tara Davis (US)

(21-8¾, 21-10¾, 22-4¼, 22-5¼, 22-5, 22-¼) (6.62, 6.67, 6.81, 6.84, 6.83, 6.71);

7. Brooke Stratton (Aus) 22-5 (6.83)

(f, 21-4¾, 22-5, 20-5¾, 21-8¾, f) (f, 6.52, 6.83, 6.24, 6.62, f);

8. Jazmin Sawyers (GB) 22-3¾ (6.80)

(f, 22-3¾, 21-5¼, 22-1½, f, f) (f, 6.80, 6.53, 6.74, f, f);

9. Khaddi Sagnia (Swe) 21-10¾ (6.67)

(21-7¼, 21-10¾, 21-7¼) (6.58, 6.67, 6.58);

10. Tyra Gittens (Tri) 21-8 (6.60)

(20-8, 21-8, 21-5¼) (6.30, 6.60, 6.53);

11. Abigail Irozuru (GB) 21-4¼ (6.51)

(f, 21-4¼, 20-7) (f, 6.51, 6.27);

12. Chantel Malone (BVI) 21-4 (6.50)

(21-4, 15-6¼, 21-3¼) (6.50, 4.73, 6.48)

(best-ever mark-for-place: 8–9)

first 3 rounds
* = progression of the leading jump; ¶ = athlete’s best of the day
Gittens 6.30* 6.60¶ 6.53
Reese 6.60* 6.81 6.97*¶
Stratton f 6.52 6.83¶
Španović 6.71* 6.91¶ 6.84
Mihambo 6.83* 6.95 6.78
Brume 6.97*¶ 6.67 f
Bekh-Romanchuk f f 6.88¶
Irozuru f 6.51¶ 6.27
Malone 6.50¶ 4.73 6.48
Davis 6.62 6.67 6.81
Sawyers f 6.80¶ 6.53
Sagnia 6.58 6.67¶ 6.58
rounds 4–5
Sawyers 6.74 f
Davis 6.84¶ 6.83
Stratton 6.24 6.62
Bekh-Romanchuk f f
Španović f 6.63
Mihambo f f
Reese 6.87 6.95*
Brume 6.88* f
final round
Sawyers f
Stratton f
Davis 6.71
Bekh-Romanchuk f
Španović 6.72
Mihambo 7.00*¶
Brume 6.90
Reese 6.84

QUALIFYING (August 01; auto-qualifier 22-1¾/6.75)

Qualifiers: Španović 22-11¾ (7.00), Mihambo 22-10¾ (6.98), Reese 22-6¼ (6.86), Davis 22-5¾ (6.85), Malone 22-4½ (6.82), Brume 22-2¼ (6.76), Sagnia 22-2¼ (6.76), Irozuru 22-1¾ (6.75), Gittens 22-¾ (6.72), Bekh-Romanchuk 22-¼ (6.71), Sawyers 21-8¾ (6.62), Stratton 21-8 (6.60);

Non-qualifiers: Quanesha Burks (US) 21-6¼ (6.56), Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova (Blr) 21-6 (6.55), Maryse Luzolo (Ger) 21-5½ (6.54), Anasztázia Nguyen (Hun) 21-4¾ (6.52), Alina Rotaru-Kottmann (Rom) 21-4¼ (6.51), Eliane Martins (Bra) 21-1¼ (6.43), Rellie Kaputin (PNG) 21-0 (6.40), Florentina Costina Iusco (Rom) 20-10½ (6.36), Fatima Diame (Spa) 20-9 (6.32), Christabel Nettey (Can) 20-7¾ (6.29), Yanis David (Fra) 20-7 (6.27), Chanice Porter (Jam) 20-5 (6.22), Tissanna Hickling (Jam) & Darya Reznichenko (Uzb) 20-3¾ (6.19), Natalie Aranda (Pan) 20-1 (6.12), Lorraine Ugen (GB) 19-10¼ (6.05);… nm—Ksenija Balta (Est) (f, p, p);… 3f—Darya Klishina (Rus).

(best-ever qualifying-marks-for-place: 9–10) ◻︎

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