Bob Beamon on his favorite track and field record, amputee long jumper, Mike Powell’s comeback

Bob Beamon
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NEW YORK — Bob Beamon holds the longest-standing Olympic track and field record, and it looks likely to survive Rio 2016 and cross the 50-year mark.

Beamon leaped 8.90 meters to win the Mexico City 1968 Olympic long jump. It smashed the world record at the time and stood as the longest jump ever until Mike Powell‘s 8.95-meter leap in the epic 1991 World Championships.

Nobody, in any competition, has come within 17 inches of Beamon’s Olympic record since 2009. It would be astonishing if the Olympic record fell in Rio next year.

NBC SportsWorld documented Beamon, Powell, Carl Lewis and the long jump world record last fall.

OlympicTalk spoke with Beamon at NFL Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti‘s Fund to Cure Paralysis dinner at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel Tuesday.

OlympicTalk: Which track and field record, outside of the long jump, impressed you the most?

Beamon: I think that Al Oerter is probably one of the most exciting who has broken world records but also is a five-time Olympian, just incredible [Oerter won four straight Olympic discus titles and held the world record for most of 1962-64]. I think Edwin Moses, 107 wins consecutively [in the 400m hurdles from 1977-87]. I think Carl Lewis duplicating Jesse Owens, four gold medals [in 1984]. He’s amazing. He’s a guy that had all the potential to hold the world record in the 100m, the 200m and the long jump [Lewis held the world record in the 100m only]. I think he’s probably at the top, but of course you have Usain Bolt now who has mastered the 100m and the 200m.

OlympicTalk: You mentioned last year that you were working on a documentary to come out in 2016. What’s the status of that?

Beamon: It’s still going. Since I’ve been doing some things with the IOC but also Adidas, I’ve stayed pretty busy, but, yes, that’s a top priority.

OlympicTalk: How would you feel if you had to compete against impressive German amputee long jumper Markus Rehm, who has won against able-bodied athletes?

Beamon: I think it’s amazing that people don’t give up and that they feel they’re just as competitive as the next person. So you have to look at this athlete as probably, if not, a great one. He has what looks like a handicap, but he’s really not handicapped. If I was competing against him, I would say, “Good luck to you,” because you have the juice to win. I’d give him all his dues.

OlympicTalk: Mike Powell said this year that he was considering trying to qualify for and then entering the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. What do you think of that?

Beamon: I didn’t know that. I think Mike is extremely ambitious, and I think that, you know, who knows? Who knows when you should retire? People are living longer. People are living better. I’m almost 70 years old. Sometimes I feel like I might want to come out of retirement [laughs].

Editor’s Note: Beamon retired before the 1972 Olympics and said he never competed in masters-age track and field competitions.

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