The long jump is a track and field event in which an athlete tries to jump as far as possible. Competition in the long jump is open to both men and women, although they usually compete in separate events. It is also an ancient Olympic event, among the original events at the Olympic competitions held in Ancient Greece. The basic format of the long jump has changed little since then, although a deeper understanding of physics and human anatomy has led to improvements in technique and training.
Both running and standing starts are used for the long jump, although the majority of events use a running start. The athlete builds up a short burst of speed with a run on a track before launching him or herself from the takeoff board located directly in front of a large patch of sand. The spot where the athlete first touches the ground is known as the mark, because of the mark left in the sand by the athlete's feet, and it is used to measure the distance that the athlete jumped.
Training for the long jump requires building up stamina and speed so that the athlete can perform well in multiple attempts at the long jump and run as fast as possible towards the jumping area, thus building up momentum. Working on approach to the takeoff board and form in the air is also an important aspect of training. Learning to approach properly is one of the most challenging parts of training for the long jump.
In competition, an athlete is given several attempts at the long jump, with the longest legal jump serving as the athlete's final score. The number of attempts can vary, depending on the venue, but three is typical. A long jumper will be disqualified if any part of his or her feet goes past the takeoff board before jumping, as the distance of the jump is measured from the foul line directly in front of the takeoff board. Getting part of the body over the board before initiating the long jump could confer an unfair advantage on the athlete.
The long jump used to be called the broad jump, probably to further distinguish it from the high jump. However, many athletes compete in both events, as they require similar athletic abilities and physical control. Numerous combination events such as the decathlon also include both jumps. As of 2007, the record for the long jump was almost 30 feet (8.95 meters), by Mike Powell of the United States.