The Evolution of The Traditional High Jump – Sporting History

The first ever modern Olympics Games in the year 1896 is where the high jump was featured. Before 1896, the high jump event was not part of the Olympic games or the ancient Greek Olympic games. In the 18th century, the game was started a physical education activity for children mainly. However, as time passed, the game was adopted more seriously in England in the 19th century and then spread to Canada and USA.

The first eight Olympic High Jump championships belonged to the Americans. Over the years the technique of the high jump has evolved. The way the bar is cleared, the running style and the way the take-off happens has changed. The high jumpers usually jumped with their feet-first and then rolled over the bar in the 1960s. After the 1960s, Dick Fosbury began jumping over the bar head-first. He was the first athlete to come up with the technique and the style was then named ‘The Fosbury Flop’. The procedure won him the gold medal at the 1968 Olympics.

Women in High Jump

Only in the year 1928 were women allowed to enter the track and field events of the Olympics. The high jump was the only jumping event where that woman was allowed to participate. A 16-year-old German girl was the first to join and who even earned the gold medal at the age of 16. Ulrike Meyfarth also won the gold 12 years later and the next Olympics in 1972. With every historical Olympic event, women continued to grow in participation and their ability to compete in the high jump event has grown exponentially.

The Best of The Best

Some of the best high jumpers hold records that were not broken for decades. One such record creator is Cuba Javier Sotomayor. He broke the world record in 1988 and broke his record the year 1993 at the very next Olympics. Till 2015, his career was untouchable. Women had fared better from when they were first allowed to compete in the high jump events in the year 1928. The Bulgarian Stefka Kostaginova set the record for the best high jumper in the year 1987 and won the Olympics in the year 1996 as well.

Today in High Jump

To this day, the Americans hold the record for the greatest number of Olympic wins in the history of the high jump. Since the year 1896 to the late 1950s, they took home the most amount of wins. In today’s Olympic games, there have been several countries around the world that can give the Americans a competition for the gold. For the first time in the 2000 Olympic games, the high jump winners came from three different continents. The gold went to Russia, the Silver to Cuba and the Bronze went to Algeria. The Russians began taking over the high jump wins and have stayed on top since. Both the men and women from Russia have been taking away the gold at the high jump events.