Carl Lewis, the nine-time Olympic and eight-time world champion, asked a simple question on Twitter: is the long jump the most challenging track and field event? According to him, only doing the long jump opens one to the challenge and tact it takes to make the long jump correctly and perfectly. Therefore, ensues a long-overdue debate: between the long jump and the triple jump, which one is much harder for athletes? We will look at evidence that contributes or refutes to each of these sides on this site. Let’s dive in.
The Triple Jump
The triple jump starts with a sprint, three big steps after crossing the board, a hop, a step, and the final jump before landing on the sand. The sprint gives the triple jump the speed to make the jump. The difficulty in the jump comes from making and controlling the steps before the jump.
The coordination needed to keep the speed throughout the three stages is challenging since every step must be controlled. The athlete’s posture, which should be upright when jumping but folded when landing, also affects the length of the jump.
The Long Jump
The long jump starts with a sprint, three quick steps, a jump from the board with one leg, and ends with both feet landing on the sand. A long jump elite can reach 22 miles per hour because speed is necessary to ensure the jump is long. But the take-off jump also requires power. Still, the jumping and landing posture for the long jump is similar to that of the triple jump.
Triple Jump vs. Long Jump
Performance for athletic jumpers is dependent on speed, height, and technique or power. But this is something both the long jump and triple jumpers do. But because a triple jump requires the hop, step, and jump, many people presume that it is much more complex than the long jump.
Why? The three steps can slow down the athlete’s speed, thus, requiring them to use more strength to make a more significant jump. On the other hand, athletes like Carl Lewis, who have competed in the long jump for decades, believe that the sport is more challenging because of the tact required to hit the board at a certain angle and maximum velocity.
So, which one is more challenging? According to science, landing the hop and the step phases in the triple jump takes more effort and tact than the long jump. The force a triple jumper exerts on the ground can be 22 times their body weight.
This means that an athlete with 75kgs exerts a force that measures 1.6 tonnes. Remember that this is a force exerted while the athlete is standing on one leg. Additionally, it is the most tremendous force measured on a human limb that results from intentional activity.
That is also why athletes in the triple jump category often develop more muscular bones. Their shin and thigh bones become thicker and denser to accommodate the massive impact of the triple jump.
Don’t forget that the triple jumper must also include speed as a requirement to make a high jump, with the fastest athletes in the category taking off the board at 10.5 and 9.5 meters per second for men and women, respectively – these are speeds similar to those seen in long jump athletes at finals.
So, in a word, science dictates the triple jump is much more complicated than the long jump.
Still, it is subjective
Different people have varying conclusions on whether the triple jump is more complex than the long jump or vice versa. Both sports lack a single measurement, further sparks debate on whether one is even more complex than the other. Additionally, there is no measurement on which of the two is harder to train for or which is the hardest to reach a world-class level. So, while science determines the triple jump to be harder, the answer remains pretty much subjective.