The afternoon Bob Beamon flew

This afternoon a gentle wind is blowing in Mexico City. Although forecasts spoke of heavy rains, clouds are few and scattered. In the distance, the cotton and corn plantations remain motionless; the summit of Popocatepetl sleeps still. Along with a high flame cauldron, the banner of the nation is waving gently. It is October 18, 1968. They are at the Olympics.

At 3 and 45 minutes in the afternoon, several athletes are competing in the final of the long jump, where now a black man ​​with the number 254 on the back is getting ready… “Robert Beamon! “is heard through the loudspeakers.

They had predicted him discrete results, especially because in the qualifier he barely managed to pass. He was a slim black man, thinness seems to stem his strength, but there must be a reason for him to be included in the northern Olympic luminaries.

He slowly approaches the start. He looks for concentration in the sky. One, two, three seconds, and he starts running. Magnificent sprint, the perfect stomp on the table: and off, closed hard fists, stretching his head, he flies … His body now is a bow; feet cut the air like daggers. Beamon looks like a fabulous bird.

Upon contact with the clay, a cloud of dust bathes the air, and there are screams, shocked faces, emotion … “Great, mutters the judge looking through the tube, we need an additional tape. This one is not enough “.

The current world record is 8 meters 35 centimeters: Ralph Boston and Igor Ter-Ovanesian own it, and they are dumbfounded. (“I did not get aback that he broke the record, but that he smashed it easily,” Boston would say later).

The record will appear on the board … Sensational: 8.90!!! Beamon grabs his head, falls to his knees, and kisses the tartan track. Someone hears him thank God with trembling voice. “This athlete has jumped into another century,” a journalist endlessly repeated.

Beamon looks into the stands and salutes. Beamon looks into the stands and smiles. There is no boasting in his eyes and in his gestures: in this right moment, he is oblivious to the faults of men. As the clamor grows, Beamon-the god of the day-hardly limits to restrained gestures, almost sad, almost like a blues coming out of a harmonica.

Then the invasion of black clouds comes, and corn dances in the crops and the flag on the hysterical crazy wind that moves Mexico City, tiny innocent doll in the hands of an enraged giant. Then Bob looks up. Then, they say, miraculously, it rains…



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