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US long jumper Bob Beamon's 'jump of the century' Olympic gold sells for $441,000

By AFP

February 2, 2024 11:31 AM


File photo

US long jumper Bob Beamon parted with the Olympic gold medal he won at the 1968 Mexico City summer games leaping 29 feet -- the standing Olympic record -- for $441,000 on Thursday.

"It's time for me to pass it on," the 77-year-old told AFP, ahead of the award's auction by Christie's on Thursday in New York.

Beamon's historic leap -- technically at 8.9 meters, or 29 feet and 2 1/4 inches -- shattered the previous record by nearly 22 inches. It remained a world record until the 1991 Tokyo World Championships, and still stands as the top Olympic jump.

Amid a growing sports memorabilia market, the experts at Christie's had valued it between $400,000 and $600,000.

"The auction was an excellent way to showcase the medal, but also to preserve the memories of it," Beamon told AFP, adding he hoped it would go to a buyer who "understands the significance of athletic achievement."

- 'Incredible moment in history' -

Christie's declined to say who had won the medal, which attracted a hammer price of $350,000 -- before taxes and auction house fees.

It was among a series of lots auctioned off as part of Christie's "Exceptional Sale," which brought in $6.8 million and included a painting by the Beatles.

Beamon said he still remembers the "extraordinary day" that was October 18, 1968, after almost missing the games due to overstepping two of his qualifying jumps.

But "that day... everything was perfect for me. The wind was perfect. The weather when I jumped was perfect," he recalled. "It rained right after I jumped."

"I made a couple of mistakes in the preliminaries and I wanted to make sure that in the finals, I would get a fair jump, a legal jump," he said.

"But to my surprise, it was not only a jump, but it was an incredible moment in history."

It wasn't the only piece of history made in Mexico City: Those were the same games that saw John Carlos and Tommie Smith expelled from the competition after raising their fists during the US national anthem to protest discrimination against African Americans.

Smith and Carlos were castigated in much of the US media and sporting world -- but that didn't stop Beamon, also Black, from raising his fist on the podium the very next day.

"It was a very important day for Tommie and John. Unfortunately, at that time, it was not interpreted in that sense," Beamon said.

Beamon has since gotten back into drumming -- a childhood passion he dropped when "sports became number one to me."

The title of a recent album he recorded, with a jazz and funk group?

"Olympik Soul."


AFP


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