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Triple Jump

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Olympic Field Events
Overview | Discus | Shot Put | Hammer Throw | Javelin | Long Jump | Triple Jump | Pole Vault | High Jump

The triple jump – frequently known as the 'hop, skip1 and jump' – is one of eight field events within the Olympics. The triple jump is not part of either the decathlon or pentathlon. This Entry will provide the rules, the method, some history and any interesting knowledge of the triple jump.

Rules

The triple jump has the same basic aim as the long jump - that is, you are trying to gain the maximum possible horizontal distance. The triple jump could easily be considered to be a long jump with additional rules.

  • The jumper will have at least a 40-metre run-up in which to build up speed. The runner can place two markers along this run-up, in order to provide indicators to themselves on when to start specific actions for the jump.

  • The jumper must take off from behind the far edge of the marking board, otherwise the jump is disqualified.

  • The take-off for the final jump into the sand pit must take place within the marked out lane.

  • The jumper must land in the sand pit. The distance of the triple jump will be measured from the far edge of the marking board to the closest part of the impression to the marking board made as the jumper lands.

  • As can probably be seen from the name 'hop, skip, and jump', jumpers must take off, land on the same foot with which they started, 'skip' onto the other foot and then leap into the sand pit.

  • The triple jumper generally has around 90 seconds to complete their jump - since wind affects the distance achieved, jumpers will wait for a favourable wind, but they must do so while mindful of the ticking clock, and competitors must take into account the relatively lengthy amount of time needed for the jump.

  • There is the standard limitation on sole thickness (19mm for triple jump) but no restrictions on spikes.

  • As with the long jump, there is the prohibition on somersaults - though some fans are of the view that the addition of a somersault as the final stage could allow a far more thrilling sport.

Method

The method for the 'plain' long jump is quite complex, with several things to be thought about, including deciding your mid-air style. Well, perhaps obviously, the triple jump is even worse. There are multiple actions to be taken beforehand, athletes need to concentrate on more than just the jump during their run-up and any mistakes in the 'hop' and the 'skip' ripple forward to interfere with the jump. You will notice certain similarities between the following instructions and those of the long jump, but there are differences too.

Run-up

  • Decide which leg to start with. This can be harder than you might think, even if you know which is your dominant leg. A jumper then has to decide whether to use that leg first, for the first two jumps, or to save it for the final, most crucial jump. In this description, we will assume that you will be jumping off with your right leg.

  • Within the triple jump speed is important, but not quite so crucial as it is in the long jump. An even number of steps is usual (with the take-off being on the final step). As less speed is built up than is usual during the long jump, fewer steps are needed to build up to full speed. Usually the first 4-6 steps are drive-out steps for maximum acceleration, taken in a sprinter's head down pose.

  • The transition phase encompasses all steps between the starting steps and the final four steps. A high, but not final, level of speed should be taken and the athlete should control any instability in posture from the initial running phase.

  • The final acceleration phase is the last four steps. Each step should be faster than the last while the athlete takes up the near vertical upper-body position for the hop.

Hop

  • The hop is the first phase of the triple jump. The objective in the hop is to achieve both horizontal and vertical movement off the take-off board, primarily going forward but also slightly up. This is in contrast to the long jump where the aim is primarily up, then forward. The horizontal velocity off the take-off board is accomplished by keeping the body upright but in a slightly forward position. The take-off foot should land heel first and snatch backwards to push the athlete forwards. The left leg should also be pushed forwards at the same time to enhance the forwards motion.

  • In mid-air, the heel of the hop leg should rotate under the hip and then be extended as far forward as possible in a cycling motion. The upper body should also lean slightly forwards. This position will make the athlete feels as if he or she is running off the board. The athlete must also not lean too far forward, lest they unbalance their hop.

  • As the right leg cycles forwards again, the left leg should be straightened from its bent forwards position, then brought backwards and then bent again (so that the jumper is again in a hop position).

Skip

  • As the right leg comes down, the athlete must again explosively hop in the same fashion as before (pushing backwards, rolling off the heel).

  • Now in the skip phase, the left leg must form a right angle, with the upper leg parallel with the ground and the lower leg perpendicular to it, while in mid-air.

  • Just as the jumper approaches landing, they must extend their leg. While doing so they must lean forwards so the upper body stays at 90° to the upper leg, in order to give the most power to the final stage.

Jump

  • The jumper now finally reaches the jump part of the triple jump. Upon landing, the jumper explosively straightens their leg in order to launch themselves into the pit. Within the triple jump, each jump is higher than the previous part - so there is more vertical height within the final part of the triple jump - athletes will already have significant forward horizontal momentum from the other parts of the jump. While jumping, the right leg should be lifted up in front of the athlete.

  • Within the triple jump, one of many choices to be made within the long jump technique is removed from you. Because the 'jump' part of the triple jump is not as long as in the long jump, the competitor is not in the air for as long, so there is not time to adopt some of the more elaborate mid-air poses. The only acceptable method to be used in mid-air is the hang2. The body must be kept straight with the head up. The arms should be straightened above the head and the legs behind you with your knees bent, in an arched fashion.

  • Take a breath, enjoy it, and then prepare for landing in as non-graceful a fashion as possible.

Landing

  • As you start to fall, drive your arms forward and down and swing your legs forward. As soon as your heels hit the sand, let your knees buckle so you rotate over them.

  • Sigh. Debate whether the applause hammering down was worth picking such a complicated sport and whether you should take up competitive Connect Four. Congratulate yourself on managing such a hard achievement - but remember, practice makes perfect!

History of the Triple Jump

There is a significant amount of dissension over whether there was any form of triple jump in the Ancient Olympics. The long jump was an event, but records of over 50 feet (15m) were recorded - six metres more than the current world record. Therefore it has been considered that there might have been an event with a series of jumps - whether this would have been anything like the triple jump we see today, we just don't know.

The Tailteann Games, ancient Irish funeral games, are also said to have included a form of the triple jump, though again the exact format is unknown. One idea says that it was actually three connected jumps (in effect a triple jump) and then an additional long jump.

However it would make sense that it took place in a 'hop, hop, jump' style as that was very common much later, in the 19th Century, including being prevalent in Ireland. Indeed the first modern Olympics, in 1896, used the hop, hop, jump style for the triple jump.

Women came late to the game in Olympic triple jump. It only became a permitted event in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics.

As with many of the other jumping sports, there was a standing version of the triple jump - that is, from a standing start without the run-up. The world record from the 1900 Paris Olympics in the standing triple jump was set by Ray Ewry of the USA, with a jump of 10.58 metres.

Famous Triple Jumpers

Getting in ahead of the game is our Ancient Olympic competitor who has an epigram saying that a Phayllos of Kroton managed 55 feet (about 17m) - a not inconsiderable leap (or three).

Jonathan Edwards, from the United Kingdom, holds the world triple jump record with a distance of 18.29 metres - a record set all the way back in 1995. Edwards actually holds six of the top ten longest ever triple jump distances, as well as a gold medal from the 2000 Olympics, despite jumping in that event over half a metre less than his Personal Best.

Viktor Saneyev for the Soviet Union holds the most gold medals in the triple jump, winning in 1968, 1972 and 1976.

Inessa Kravets from Ukraine holds the women's world record at 15.50 metres and a gold medal from 1996.

Interesting Moments

In every Olympics, one or more countries will cry foul about judging bias - almost always in subjective sports such as diving or gymnastics. However in 1980, in the Moscow games, such arguments spilled over into the normally objective field events. The USSR took both gold and silver in the triple jump, but the top two non-USSR competitors were charged with 9 fouls out of 12 jumps. In one instance Ian Campbell, from Australia, was accused of dragging his trail leg (thereby breaking the three jump rule) - but while he was arguing with the umpire, the pit was raked, shredding any evidence.

The Olympic games in 1968 were good times for fans of the triple jump. Before the games, the record stood at 55' 10½" (17.03m); in one games, no fewer than five athletes managed to crush this record - the least by three inches (7.5cm), the best, Viktor Saneyev of the USSR, by 15 inches (38cm). Two world record breakers failed to even gain a medal.

1Or even the hop, step and jump.2The picture on the Long Jump Entry is a nice display of the hang style.

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