Former Stillman trackster Jeff Henderson won the long jump at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games on his sixth and final attempt, leaping a season best 27 feet, 6 inches (8.38 meters). He hit the sand, then bounded out the back of the pit and sprinted down the tarmac. After he saw his mark, he then sprinted the other way in elation. His final jump eclipsed Luvo Manyonga of South Africa by half an inch or one centimeter. Manyonga had jumped 8.37 meters before Henderson’s jump.
Henderson’s was the first gold for Team USA in this event since 2004. Teammate Jarrion Lawson was fourth at 27-0 ¾, finishing behind reigning Olympic champion Greg Rutherford of Great Britain, who overtook him on his final attempt by jumping 27-2 ½. After winning the gold medal, Henderson got an unexpected history lesson.
An Olympic official opened his press conference by announcing that the United States has won 22 gold medals in the long jump, more gold medals won by any country in any event. “I did not know about that until now,” said Henderson, 27, from McAlmont, Ark. “But it feels good to be in that category, to win that many medals. It feels surreal right now.’” Oh, and one more thing he wanted to add. “I guarantee you Carl Lewis can’t say much about it now,” Henderson said.
Lewis, with whom Henderson said he has no beef despite Lewis’ remarks about the current American long jumpers and despite Henderson’s crack during the press conference. “He’s trying to test us,” Henderson said, adding that he is motivated by the Americans’ record-setting jumps more than a foot ahead of his own best. “I want to be able to jump that far next year. So when I get a chance to do that, I will do it. “I will do it next year. That’s a promise.”