Spikes23 Sep 2015

Words of Wisdom – Bob Beamon


Bob Beamon Mexico City

Bob Beamon provided one of the most iconic moments in athletics history when he improved the long jump world record by more than HALF A METRE to win gold at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. The legendary American shares his words of wisdom.

1. Keep running up that hill

“The road to success in athletics can be a tough, uphill journey, so it is important to be patient in order to overcome those obstacles. Patience is important not only in athletics but also in general life away from the track. I know that I had to learn patience over time in my track career.

“At high school I jumped 25ft [around 7.60m] but I remember losing my patience when I got to college and I got beat by a high school athlete by the name of Jerry Proctor. I thought ‘how can I let a high school student beat me?’ But over time I figured I just needed to be patient. If you don’t have patience you start losing focus, you become discombobulated and achieve nothing.

“I also recall another time when I was beaten to gold at the 1967 Pan American Games by Ralph Boston [former world record holder and 1960 Olympic long jump champion]. I was too cocky and lost focus. Fortunately, Ralph was a great teacher and I learned from him. That experience taught me I needed to be ready to jump at all times.”

Beamon's 8.90m world record stayed unbroken for 23 years, and remains second on the all-time lists 

2. With experience comes consistency

“During the early part of my career I was inconsistent. During one meet I would jump a certain distance, but then not deliver at the next meet.

“I knew that there was something going on causing me to lack consistency. I realised I never had any real experience of running. It was only after teaming up and training with Tommie Smith and John Carlos [200m gold and bronze medallists at Mexico City 1968] that I learned how to sprint properly, improved my work on the runway and became a more consistent long jumper.”

Bob Beamon plays basketball

Beamon (left) be like "I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller"

3. Champions commit

“Are you prepared to be fully committed in order to become a champion? Because if you are not, then you are not going to reach your goals. My dream as a youngster was to be a pro basketballer, yet from high school I realised I had more of a talent for track and field and I started to become more committed.

“I saw that I was improving, and from the age of 17 or 18 I became fully committed. To reach this point you need to recognise your shortcomings and work on overcoming them. It was then I gave up doing bad things and started doing good things. If I had not been so committed to the sport I would never have won in Mexico City.”