Tuesday, November 29, 2011

2011 in Review – Men’s Long Jump

In spite of the fact that I tend to talk more about the running events than I do the field events, I’m actually a huge fan of the field events. It just seems that lately some of the excitement is missing in the field.

I remember when the long jump featured great battles like the U.S. Championships in 1987 (San Jose) with Carl Lewis (8.65m/28’ 4.5”), Larry Myricks (8.63m/28’ 3.75”) and Mike Conley (8.55w/28’ 0.75”w) all over 28 feet. Then there was the Olympic Trials of 1988 (Indianapolis) with Lewis (8.76m/28’ 9”) and Myricks (8.74m/28’ 8.25”) dueling in the rain. And of course the epic 1991 World Championships final (Tokyo) where Mike Powell set the existing WR of 8.95m (29’ 4.5”) with Lewis leaping 8.87m (29’ 1.25”) legally and 8.91m (29’ 2.75”) windy!

We’re a ways from there, yet this season looked like we may have been on a path to begin to approach that range once again as Mitchell Watt (AUS) jumped 8.38m (27’ 6”) in mid-March then came back to go 8.44m (27’ 8.25”) in mid-April – all during the Australian summer. With the rest of the world getting in gear with the start of the Diamond League, Watt continued to jump far once again hitting 8.44m in Shanghai. The surprise was the relatively poor showing of defending World champion Dwight Phillips (USA) 4th in a modest 8.07m (26’ 5.75”).

The jumpers would resume their battles in Hengelo with another former champion, Irving Saladino (PAN) showing good form in an 8.38mw (27’ 6”w) win with Phillips back in 6th in 7.97m (26’ 1.75”). At the next stop in Eugene, however, Saladino would no height, as Greg Rutherford (GBR), Godfrey Mokoena (RSA) and Sebastian Beyer (GER) would lead the way in a windy affair.

With no long jump in either Oslo or New York, the biggest news during the period was the NCAA championship victory of Ngoni Makusha (ZIM) who spanned 8.40m (27’ 6.75”) in Des Moines. The other big news in June was the 10th place finish of Phillips at the U.S. Championships, as he was only able to get out to 7.89mw(25’ 10.75”w) as youngsters Marquis Goodwin (8.33w/27’4”w) and Will Claye (8.19mw/26’ 10.5”) lead the way to Daegu.

Heading to Europe there was again a gap in meets in the DL as there was no long jump in Paris, Birmingham, or Monaco – leaving the jumpers with meets in Stockholm and London as their major opportunities prior to the World Championships. Watt made the most of it leaping 8.54m (28’ 0.25”)in Stockholm (Saladino in 3rd at 8.19m/26’ 10.5”) and then 8.45m (27’ 8.75”) in London (Britains’s Chris Tomlinson runner up in 8.30mw/27’ 2.75”w). Making Watt a heavy favorite to bring home Australia’s fist ever long jump gold.

Ah, but the best laid plans of mice and men are oft strewn asunder, and so it was in Daegu. In the qualifying round of Daegu defending champion Phillips showed life leading everyone at 8.32m (27’ 3.75”). And though the favored Watt was consistent, leaping an 8.33m (27’ 4”) of his own in the final but it would not be enough as Phillips leapt 8.45m (27’ 8.75”) for the win and the gold – leaving Watt with silver. NCAA champion Makusha would span 8.29m (27’ 2.5”) for the bronze medal as Saladino would finish 22nd and fail to make the final.

At this point the season was done. Makusha would win in Zurich in a modest 8.00m (26’ 3”) with Phillips in 3rd and Watt in 7th. And that was really the end of the year for the major players. So, how did they rate on the season?


#1 Mitchell Watt Australia

The silver medalist was easily the year’s best. He was 10 – 4 overall on the year and though he didn’t take World gold, he was the year’s best in every other category. His wins included Shanghai, Stockholm and London and he beat everyone on the year.


#2 Yahya Berrabah Morocco

Who you ask? Yes it was a very tough year in this event and in the end I went with the 4th placer in Daegu. He was 7 – 4 on the year, though several of his wins were in lesser meets. Still, he won in Luzerne and Barcelona, was 2nd in Stockholm and 4th at Worlds. When you take a look at the competition that was enough for #2 in my humble opinion.


#3 Irving Saladino Panama

Saladino had a solid if unspectacular season this year. His big problem being his melt down in Daegu. He was only 3 -4 on the year, but had wins in Hengelo and Paris. He was also 3rd in Stockholm and 4th in London. Given the year this event had if he had gotten anywhere close to getting on the podium he probably would have garnered the #2 spot.


#4 Ngoni Makusha Zimbabwe

Makusha was 5 – 2 on the year, but spent a lot of time against collegians. He did win in Zurich and took the NCAA championship, which was actually a tough meet this year considering in comparison to most meets. And of course he picked up bronze in Daegu.


#5 Dwight Phillips United States

This is the best I can do for the gold medalist, and some may consider this too good. He was only 1 – 6 on the year, his one being the big one. He did finish 2nd in Berlin, and had 4th place finishes in Shanghai, Zurich and New Castle. On that basis, he gets my 5th slot.

Next up the women’s version.

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