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a track and field event in which an athlete tries to jump over a bar supported by two posts at least 12 feet apart
In a meet, the bar is placed at successively higher levels. Jumpers remain in the competition until they miss three consecutive times. Jumpers must take off on one foot. The victory goes to the jumper who clears the greatest height during the final. If two or more jumpers tie for first place, the tie-breakers are: 1) The fewest misses at the height at which the tie occurred; and 2) The fewest misses throughout the competition. If the event remains tied, the jumpers have a jump-off, beginning at the next greater height. Each jumper has one attempt. The bar is then alternately lowered and raised until only one jumper succeeds at a given height. The first recorded high jump event took place in Scotland in the 19th century. The event has been part of the Olympics since the first modern games were held in 1896.
Almost all high jumpers use one of two styles -- the straddle or the Fosbury flop.
In the straddle, jumpers take off on their inside foot (the foot nearer the bar). They approach at a slow run and, when ready to jump, plant their take-off foot about an arm's length from the bar. As they spring, their outside leg and both arms swing upward. The jumpers have their abdomen and face toward the bar when they kick their outside leg over, and then roll over so their inside leg comes over last.
The straddle was by far the most popular high jump style until the late 1960's, when the Fosbury flop became the standard. This style was originated by Dick Fosbury, a student at Oregon State University, who used it at the 1968 Olympic games to set a new Olympic record of 7 feet 4-1/4 inches and win the gold medal. Jumpers using the Fosbury flop begin their approach straight toward the bar but swing to one side just before jumping. They take off on their outside foot and turn their back to the bar. Then they arch their back over the bar and kick their legs out to clear it, landing on their shoulders and back.
The current High Jump World Record is 8 feet 0.46 inches (2.45 meters), set by Javier Sotomayor of Cuba on July 27, 1993 at Salamanca, Spain. Sotomayor also holds the indoor and world record of 7 feet 11.67 inches (2.43 meters).
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This page was last updated on August 19, 2018.