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    Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    A question for the TNF historians. I know that Jackie Robinson was the 1940 NCAA long jump champion. Would he have been a contender to make the 1940 US Olympic team? Assuming he made the team would he have been a serious medal contender? Who were the top longer jumpers in 1940? What was Robinson's personal best?
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    Re: Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    I do not qualify as a T&F historian, but here is some data from the Archive section of this site, provided by, and all thanks to, real T&F historians such as bambam, et al.

    I'm just listing those over 24 feet, as listed in the results in the Archive.

    US National Championships 1940
    29 June
    1.Billy Brown 25-1.125
    2. Pat Turner 24-7.875

    NCAA Championships 1940
    1. Jackie Robinson 24-10 1/4
    2. Billy Brown 24-0 3/4

    I don't know Robinson's lifetime best in this event, and I don't know what the world's best marks were in 1940 (or '39, or '41). Moreover, I don't have any idea who else, if anyone, in the USA might have jumped in that range during that year, but based on this very limited data set, Jackie Robinson looks like he might have been a reasonable candidate for the Oly team.

    (And I am hoping the real historians will weigh in -- I would be interested to know more on this question.)
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    Re: Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    He was 4th on the world list that year at 25-0 (7.62).

    Turner led at 25-6 1/4 (7.78)
    Genken Kim (Jpn, but perhaps a Korean?) 25-1 ½ (7.66)
    Brown 25-1 (7.65)

    Of course, Europeans not much involved in the sport at that point.

    In '39 Robinson does't break 24 (don't know what he did, if anything), isn't in the world top 50.

    But in '38 he gets his PR of 25-6½ (7.78) which is a world leader and World Junior Record. Did not break 25 in any other meet.
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    Re: Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    Quote Originally Posted by gh
    Genken Kim (Jpn, but perhaps a Korean?) 25-1 ½ (7.66)
    Yup, he was Kim Won-Kwon, a Korean; he represented South Korea in both LJ and TJ at the 1948 Olys, but was well past his peak by then. He was the world's #1 triple jumper during the war years.

    (Side question to which i don't know the answer: when was his Korean record in the triple jump broken? I looked in Juoksija's 1983 WC games book, and his 15.86 from '43 was still listed as the NR.)
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    Re: Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    Pure conjecture on my part but I think he would have spent more time on the long jump in 1940 had there been an Olympics and would have had a decent shot at a medal. On the other hand, others would have too, so who really knows. That we're even talking about it in what was clearly his fourth sport is why Robinson is my go-to response for "greatest athlete of all time".
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    Re: Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    with his brother already owning an Olympic medal, I can't imagine that he could have resisted the lure to do so.
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    Re: Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    The retro rankings that Richard Hymans and I are working on currently have Robinson at #6 in the world in 1938 (his 2nd year at Pasadena CC), unranked in 1939 (around #12), and #1 in 1940 (Sr at UCLA), and #9 in 1941. (Cautionary note, this is far from "final" as research is ongoing.)

    So yes, he's a strong contender for the gold in 1940. But it's anything but a clear shot. He's not a clear #1, as LSU's Billy Brown and UCLA teammate Pat Turner also have good claims at #1. And that's just on the US side, as Korean Kin Won-kon (representing Japan as Genken Kim) was the world leader. But without additional marks known to us at the moment it's difficult to know how high to rank Kin.

    Jackie Robinson (UCLA) 7.62 7.62, 7.61, 7.57, 7.21 (2-2 Turner, 3-0 or 2-1 Lacefield based on dispute of PCC/B10 places)
    1)NCAA (7.57/24-10 1/4), 1)PCC-LsAng(Col) 5/25 (7.62/25-0)—first meet of year, 2)ComptInv 6/7 (7.21/23-7 ¾), 2/3-NC)PCC/B10-Evanston 6/17 (7.61/24-11 7/8-LAT,RH, 1/8-NC)

    Billy Brown (LSU) 7.65 7.65, 7.47, 7.35, 7.33, 7.28 (0-1 Robinson)
    1)AAU (7.65/25-1 1/8), 2)NCAA (7.33/24-0 3/4), 1)DrakeR 4/26 (7.36/24-1 ¾-NYT/7.35/24-1 3/8 /7.32/24-0 3/8-LAT7.29//23-11, RH-7.28/23-11 4/27), 1)LSU/Tul-_ 5/3 (7.47/24-6), 1)SEC-BirmAL 5/17 (7.28/23-11), 1)SnAAU-_ 5/25 (7.28/23-11)

    Pat Turner (UCLA) 7.78 7.78, 7.51, 7.51, 7.51, 7.43 (2-2 Robinson, 0-2 Brown, 1-1 Hodgson, 5-1 Lacefield)
    2)AAU (7.51/24-7 7/8), 1)AAU Jr (7.51/24-7 5/8), 4)NCAA (7.21/23-8), 1=)LongBeachR 3/16 (7.27/23-10 ½), 1)UCLA/Az-_ 5/22(3/22-RH) (7.22/23-8 ½), 2)UCLA/Cal-LAng 4/6 (7.26/23-10, RH also 7.22), 1)UCLA/Stan-LAng- 4/13 (7.22/23-8 ½), 1)USC/UCLA-LAng 4/27 (7.40/24-3 ½), 1)WCR-Fres 5/11 (7.51/24-7 ½), 2)PCC-LsAng(Col) 5/25 (7.43/24-4 ½, ¾-LAT), 1)ComptInv 6/7 (7.33/24-0 ½), 1)PCC/B10-Evanston 6/17 (7.78/25-6 3/8 MR)

    4 *Genken Kim (Jap) 7.66 1)Kashihara 6/1 (7.66)—Kim Won-kon (Kor)
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    Re: Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    I believe that he passed away 40 years ago yesterday. (First baseball game that I ever went to he stole home.)
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    Re: Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    I'm currently reading Arnold Rampersad's 1997 book, Jackie Robinson: A Biography. When Robinson first entered UCLA he publicly stated that he no longer would be a four-sport star and would focus only on football and track.

    From pg 62-63:

    But Jack himself shook up reporters---and no doubt, at least two coaches at UCLA---by announcing that he would no longer strive to be a "four sport" athlete. Instead, he would compete in football and the broad jump only, because the strain of competition in four sports was too great. "And besides", he added, "I think I should study. That is why I chose UCLA. I don't intend to coast so I can play ball."

    Jack's decision meant only one thing, really: he had set himself the goal of following in Mack's footsteps and making the U.S. Olympic team in 1940. Already some experts were hailing him as the finest broad jumper in the United States. With time to now train for the event, he was expected to earn a spot on the team easily.
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    Re: Jackie Robinson and the long jump
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    Thanks, all! Great information.
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