Bob Beamon, Former Olympian
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Great to hear from you. And this is a special week for me. I know Bob, I can't believe. I mean fifty years. I was actually I was not quite yet alive, but I feel like I was alive because I grew up with stories of of what you chief in Mexico City. My father wrote a book about you a biography of you, which he titled the perfect jump. One of my favorite of my fathers thirty three titles and you guys had a very special relationship, and I feel like to some degree anyway, I was fortunate to inherit some of that partake us back to October eighteenth nineteen sixty eight. You had been the silver medallist year before at the Pan Am games in the long jump previously known as the broad jump in. You were certainly one of the favorites for the gold medal and you're competing against eager tear Ovanisian and Ralph Boston who'd won the golden sixty in the silver and sixty four. How confident to what degree did you think you could emerge with the championship in Mexico City? Whoa, Lee Pan Am games happened in nineteen sixty seven, and I think that that was probably. The greatest experience that I can have and being in the international arena, it was getting me ready for the big Olympic that that would be in nineteen sixty eight. So I I was learning one. It would take to stay on top or be in the mix of of getting that gold medal in the Olympic Games. Of course, I took second in the in the long jump and Winnipeg, but it was a great experience for me. I I it's kinda proved to help me down the road for sixty speaking with Bob Beamon who fifty years ago this week on October eighteenth nineteen sixty eight set the world long. Jump record shattered the world. Long. Jump record jumping twenty nine feet two and a half inches twenty two inches farther than any human had ever previously jumped. And in some ways, as many people have said since then, although there was there was some great competition. The eighties in the early nineties with Carl Lewis in Mike Powell who would eventually break your record in Tokyo at the world championships in nineteen Ninety-one. Jumping twenty nine feet four and a half inches. You still have the second longest jump of all time. I mean, did you do you ever try to put that into perspective? Bob, that here we are half a century later in only Mike Powell and only once in Tokyo. Is anybody ever. Farther? Well, I think this week I'm just really visualizing they. They're jump in terms of, you know, the fifty years that it has laugh at and in addition to that it, it's it's the Olympic record Meyer Olympic record, still stands. So I have, I've lost a world record, but I'm in. I was in Mexico City yesterday and they. They have the main Dame, the Olympic training center after me. So it just made me just feel so good that that the Olympic record still stands out two years when also that Mexico City or Mexico still has offered me my feets some fifty years ago, not Beeman still the Olympic record holder in the long jump at eight point, nine meters or twenty nine feet two and a half inches, and Bob bet sixty eight Olympic track and field team. We had a discussion about it on the show few weeks ago with the author of a new book about that remarkable moment in time in that remarkable team, you could certainly make a case that was the greatest team ever assembled in track would be hard to deny that the gold medal. Are you the gold medal for Lee Evans gold medal for Tommy Smith at two hundred meters gold medal for Jim Hines, one hundred meters, dick Fosbury in the high jump Bob Seger in in the pole, vault Al order in the discus. I mean we could go on and on the four by one hundred four by four hundred. I think did Randy mats and win the shock put too. Right. That's right pop. I mean, and then of course, you know what happened with Smith and Carlos in the black power salute after the two hundred meters. You yourself had a history going into these games of of standing up. To big, it's you were suspended when you were in college for refusing to to compete in a segregated event. Can you tell us about that? What happened was it was a movement to human rights. What were you know what the boycott would have dead. However, all the athletes blackout decided to go ahead on and compete in nineteen sixty eight Olympics. They. So I I wasn't going to my past the sixty eight games because you just really never knew if you get hurt or your interest with not goes towards making it a nineteen seventy two things. So I said, let me. Take advantage of of of what is going on now. So I decided I decided I'm gonna go no matter what. So what happened was that John and Tommy Smith. Made a protest with the black glove, and they got suspended. By every bud, the head of the International Olympic Committee it. So you know, that was pretty alarming and disturbing to have that happen to to one of our teeth. They to actually see these guys go through just nothing, but k, Bob wanna. You know, one of the interesting things about your story, of course, because this is the urine, which Brundage as the head of the International Olympic Committee. And previously the head of the US Olympic Committee enforced strict codes of amateurism meaning Olympic athletes couldn't monetize their successes in the games. They couldn't have get paid by sponsors. Even though of course, everybody behind the iron curtain was innocence of professional being paid to compete in their sports. You know that uneven playing field. So you had to go pro to make money after you broke the records, he, you didn't jump va. Very much in official competitions after the record. And you never again jumped twenty nine twenty eight or even twenty seven feet in competition. If you'd be able to dedicate yourself the way that athletes now can because they could be professionals and make a lot of money while they can continue to compete in events such as the Olympics and all the track and field events in Europe. How far do you think you could have stretched your record? I probably would've stretch my my competition. Here's I've probably be trying out for twenty twenty. Now. But, but I think if we really look at and and I know that you follow us, you know, through through the data that has. Has come up was that Adidas, Puma began its major fight of who what athlete was going to wear their shoes and how much they could get out of each of the athletes that would wear issue and went to go metal. It began the fight of how of marketing really started or athletes making money. So you were in the middle of all that you were wearing both their shoes? Absolutely. I war a war primer and the preliminaries and Adidas in the finals. So I wasn't. I couldn't. I couldn't make money, but they gave me. They gave me at least twenty twenty five fares shooting. As early for looking at it today. I think the young athletes today would be laughing, so hard. And what had happened with me, but it was truly the beginning of of what they saw that athletes could endorse shoes and products of each of those company. We're speaking with Bob beam in the nineteen sixty eight Olympic gold medalist in fifty years later, still the Olympic record holder in the long jump at twenty nine feet two and a half inches. That's eight point, nine meters on the metric scale. But before we let you go, it's just an honor to be speaking to you, particularly this week on the anniversary of one of the great feats ever in sports. When you think back about that moment in time in my father was always fascinated about about this moment. Always fascinated him in one of the things that interested him was your personal story, which is so rich and I, I. Would I would ask our listeners to go look into it more more than we have time for right now, but you you, you found this perfect moment and you were just a kid at the time. You were twenty two years old. This perfect moment. No one could have even imagined you jumping this far or anyone jumping this far, you kind of destroyed the event for a while. What is it like to achieve a certain kind of perfection at twenty two and and have that. At the center of your life for so long, very happy about it. You know, they've also included in the dictionary a turn. That they use called beaming with. So you know, every every moment with chick Yuli right now, I'm just really thankful that that people remember me fifty years ago. It's certainly been a a wonderful journey Bob Beamon. It's always a pleasure to speak to you, sir. Congratulations on all the celebrations of the anniversary of that spectacular feed in Mexico City. Fifty years ago this week still the Olympic record holder still to second longest long jump ever in competition official long jump ever in competition. Bob, Hope we get a chance to see you soon and speak to you again soon. Thank you for coming on the sporting life. It's my, it's my project. I'm Jeremy shop and you can listen to new additions of the sporting life every Saturday and Sunday. Morning on ESPN radio and ESPN app beginning at six AM eastern time.