Long jump:

It is the oldest of all jumping sports. It was included in the Olympic Games in 708 BC as part of the pentathlon. Competitors used weights called halteres to improve their performance. The results achieved by the Greeks were remarkable. In 498 BC an athlete called Chionis of Laconia jumped... 16.64 m which was probably a total of three attempts. In ancient Rome and in the Middle Ages long jump exercises were part of military training while competitions added splendour to various festivals. Modern rules were adopted in the 19th C. In England and the USA the take-off was made from a board 20 cm wide (the rule is still in force) into a pit filled with sand. Until 1920 athletes used a jumping technique with three phases: immediately after the take-off the legs were lifted under the body, then stretched out and drawn up again during the landing. Later on William De Hart Hubbard and Robert Legendre introduced a new style which involved a continuation of running during the flight.

The first long jump competition for women took place in 1895 in the USA. At present, the run-up is usually 14-16 strides for beginners and 20-21 for advanced jumpers. The world record holders are American Mike Powell (895 cm) and Russian Galina Chystiakova (752 cm). The greatest achievements of Polish jumpers are a golden and a silver Olympic medal (1956 and 1960 respectively) won by Elżbieta Duńska-Krzesińska and her world record of 635 cm. Before the Second World War Stanisława Walesiewiczówna broke the world record (602 and 609 cm). Furthermore, Irena Szewińska won a silver medal for the long jump at the Games in Tokyo (1964) even though primarily she is recognized as an excellent sprinter. In 1969 Mirosława Sarna became the Champion of Europe, three years before that it was... Szewińska. Duńska-Krzesińska, Zbigniew Iwański and Kazimierz Kropidłowski were second at the Championships of Europe.

High jump:

It is a sport which involves taking a jump to clear the highest height. After a run-up on a curved runway a jumper takes off from one foot and jumps over a crossbar supported by two uprights. The most successful competitors are very well prepared in terms of strength and speed because these motor skills are the key to the jumping ability. This sport was invented by the Celts. People in the Middle Ages also attempted to practise the high jump. The first modern contest took place in England in 1840. The high jump rules were established 25 years later. Women started to compete in the high jump in 1895. The high jump entered the Olympic programme in 1928. Three years earlier IAAF decided that the crossbar should be supported in such a way that it would fall once touched. At first, athletes took off from both feet. Then a feet first technique came into use. The precursor of the scissors style, which was first used in 1874, was William Page. In 1912 George Horine cleared the height of 2 m using a style called the Western roll. In 1941 jumpers started to adopt a technique called the Straddle which was introduced by Lester Steers. The style was innovative because it involved jumping head first. In 1968 the so-called Flop came into use. It was Dick Fosbury who proved that it is possible to jump high with a backward jump preceded by a fast run-up. Havier Sotomayor from Cuba holds an all-time record of 245 cm. The women's record of 209 cm has been set by Stefka Kostadinova.

Poland can boast a number of excellent jumpers. Jacek Wszoła became an Olympic champion in 1976 and was second in 1980. Artur Partyka was second (1996) and third (1992) at the Games. At the World Championships he was a two-time silver medallist (1993, 1997) and a one-time bronze medal winner (1995). Two Polish women jumpers have been second at the Olympics - Jarosława Jóźwiakowska (1960) and Urszula Kielan (1980).

Pole vault:

Pole vaulting was known to the ancient Greeks who jumped over bulls. The Celts used to pole vault for length. The beginnings of jumping for height date back to the 18th C when the pole vault became part of gymnastics competitions in Germany. The first pole vault competition took place in 1850. In those days vaulters used heavy poles made of ash wood. In 1889 the Americans changed the way of gripping the pole and invented a technique in which the legs are raised upward and the vaulter faces the crossbar while clearing it. In 1900 bamboo poles came into use. They remained the standard for the next 40 years. Subsequently, aluminium and steel poles were introduced. What has revolutionized the sport, however, were poles made of fibreglass reinforced with plexiglas introduced in 1956. At present, vaulters use flexible poles made of high quality synthetic materials. The pole is a 520 cm long tube 4 cm in diameter. Its properties include the vaulter's maximum weight measured in pounds and the so-called flex, i.e. the deflection rate of the pole under pressure, also known as stiffness. After a run-up the pole is planted into the so-called box. The box is a metal trapezoidal indentation which marks the point where run-ups end and height measurements are taken. The pit where the jumper lands is 80 cm thick and made of hard polyester foam. The landing area is up to 6 m in length and width. The uprights allow the bar to be placed at heights exceeding 6.20 m. The bar is 4.5 m long and resembles the crossbar used in the high jump.

The world record holders are Sergey Bubka from Ukraine (6.14) dubbed "the tsar of vaulting" and Russian Yelena Isinbayeva (4.91). Although women's pole vault events have been registered since 1911, IAAF did not acknowledge women's pole vaulting as an official sport until 1995. Polish vaulters have won four Olympic medals including two gold ones. Tadeusz Ślusarski is a two-time champion (1976 - 1st place, 1980 - 2nd place), Władysław Kozakiewicz won the memorable contest in Moscow (1980), spectacularly breaking the world record (5.78) and Anna Rogowska brought home the bronze medal from the Olympics in 2004. Currently Rogowska is also the Polish record holder (4.83). Mirosław Chmara is the athlete who has jumped the highest in men's competitions (5.90). Monika Pyrek won two medals at the World Championships in 2001 (bronze) and 2005 (silver).

Triple jump:

Triple jump was practised by the ancient Greeks and involved taking three long jumps. At the end of the 19th C the sport involved taking two jumps on one leg followed by one long jump. The Celts introduced a style with three jumps as a continuous action. The sport began to take its present form in the 20th C in the USA, England, Australia and notably in Ireland where it was one of the attractions at folk festivals. In those days all jumps were made on one leg and the best athletes jumped as far as 15 m. Nowadays, a triple jumper must take three consecutive jumps called a hop, a step and a jump. Essentially, in the hop an athlete takes off and lands on the same foot and in the step he lands on the other foot. The jump involves landing in a sand-filled pit with both feet together. The first two phases take place on a hard runway. The rules for the run-up, take-off and landing are the same as those of the long jump. Before a jumper is allowed to enter his first competition, he must take part in a jumping ability training lasting a few months, as the risk of leg and spinal injuries is considerable.

A Japanese athlete Naoto Tajima was the first triple jumper to attain 16 m and Józef Szmidt was the first to break the 17 m barrier. He reached 17.03 m in 1960 and his record stood for eight years. This Polish competitor was a two-time Olympic champion (1964, 68) and a two-time European champion (1958, 62). Later on Zdzisław Hoffmann became a continuator of this glorious tradition when in 1983 he won the gold medal at the first World Championships in athletics. He also holds the Polish record (17.53). Currently the people who hold the world records in the triple jump are Jonathan Edwards (18.29) and Inessa Kravets (15.50). Women started to practice the triple jump towards the end of the 19th C, yet they had to wait for the first medals until 1993.