Friday, 18 July 2008

The Jumper

When it comes to jumps, few have beaten Bob Beamon's effort from 1968. It was 8.90m. A world record that stood for 23 years.

Beamon was in Paris this week to talk about his leap and the Olympic ideal. I went along to the Novotel Eiffel Tower to listen in and record his utterances for a magazine.

He said inter alia that setting world records was one thing but winning the gold medal was the essence of competition.

And he mentioned Mike Powell, his fellow American who broke the record with a jump of 8.95 at the world championships in Tokyo in 1991.

But Powell never won gold at an Olympic Games.

That, said Beamon, was quite sad.

I remember the images of Beamon at those games in Mexico. My mother, sister and me watched the olympics on a dodgy black and white TV. There was also David Coleman's commentary - a time when the BBC was the place to watch all the big events.

Beamon was in town while my mother and grandfather were visiting. It was my grandfather's first time in Paris. At 91 he seemed chuffed to be here.

He mused that he'd never been to Paris during his 30 odd years in England before retiring to Jamaica back in the early 80s.

My mother has been a couple of times since I moved here.

So we all did the tourism thang - Bateaux Mouches, the Eiffel Tower, Montmartre and a few of the local bars in the 10th. Four generations in a cafe.

I'll see them next week when I go over to London before they all set off on their various ways back to the United States and Jamaica.

At some stage I'm going to have to sit down and ponder the impact of all this apartness. Especially with everyone getting older.

Beamon was the apt figure to be passing through. Both my grandfather and my mother took big leaps during their lives - his - going from Jamaica to England - hers - going from Jamaica to England and then on to America.

London to Paris is minor in comparison but it's clearly a trend.