American track and field legend Carl Lewis says the sport is slowly dying and the men’s long jump has hit an all-time low.
The four-time Olympic long jump champion also took a swipe at the gold medal performances of Great Britain’s World and Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford — calling them pathetic.
Rutherford won the gold medal in the event at the London Olympic Games in 2012 with a jump of 8.31 metres and Lewis thinks the current generation lack the motivation to develop into proper long jumpers who will be able to challenge Mike Powell’s 25-year-old world record of 8.95 metres.
“The long jump is the worst event in the world right now. Awful,” Lewis said in an AFP report.
“Jesse Owens would have been third in the last Olympics. His personal best from 80 years ago would have been good enough to get him a medal in London.”
He added: “Do you want to go and see someone jump 26 feet? They don’t know how to jump. And they’re not trying to because they’re winning medals anyway.
“If I jumped 26 feet I’d walk away and say ‘don’t measure that, make it a foul.’ Have a standard.
“You don’t go to the Olympics for a medal, you go for the distance. People want to go and get a medal for jumping 26 feet? Come on.
“Mike (Powell) and me were jumping 28 feet regularly. But this generation? Rutherford? I’m sorry, but it’s pathetic to me. He’s won everything.
“Are you kidding me? He’s doing his best. He’s jumping great. But he shouldn’t be winning with that.”
It will be interesting to see what kind of response Lewis will get from the current group of long jumpers, especially Rutherford, who must be feeling a little down to be called out in such a manner by the American great.