Up, Up and Out of Sight!

An unheralded American soars into history, just barely overarching a peak performance by Carl Lewis

The record had stood unapproachably majestic for 23 years, a distance of 29 ft. 2 1/2 in., about the length of a medium-size truck, easily traversed by a motorcycle daredevil propelled off a ramp -- but not by unaided tendon, sinew, flesh and blood. Only a few dared to challenge the long-jump record -- the oldest and most awesome in track and field -- set in 1968 when the American Bob Beamon flung himself through the thin Olympic air of high-altitude Mexico City, spanning a gap no man had crossed before.

Many experts thought the record a fluke, unlikely to be...

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