The son of a Church of England vicar, Jonathan Edwards was originally equally famous for his refusal to compete on a Sunday for religious reasons as for his prowess in the triple jump. His career before 1995 was not unsuccessful as Edwards had won the World Cup in 1989, a Commonwealth Games silver medal in 1990 and, after reversing his decision on Sunday competition, a bronze medal at the 1993 World Championships, but it paled in comparison to what happened in 1995. He had shown early season form by breaking the national record but that didn't prepare anyone for what was to occur next.
At the European Cup in France Edwards produced the two longest, albeit wind-assisted, leaps in history and jumped nearly a quarter-metre further than any previous jump and 46 cm more than the official world record. Over the next few weeks he broke or equaled the British record four times then put a centimeter on Willie Banks' world record at a meeting in Spain. At the Worlds in Stockholm his first leap was 18.16 m which marked the first legal 18 m jump and later in the competition he broke the world record again with 18.29 metres, the first ever mark beyond the Imperial barrier of 60 feet, and at the end of 2011 this world record has stood for 16 years, and remains the only jump ever over 60 feet. As world champion Edwards was now hot favourite for the 1996 Olympic title but in Atlanta his position as world #1 was usurped by American Kenny Harrison who chose the Olympic Final to became the second man to better 18 metres. Between the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics he maintained his position as one of the world's jumpers and won a silver and a bronze at the two World Championships in this period and was also European Champion in 1998. Edwards finally became Olympic champion in the fourth appearance at the Games in 2000. While his jumps at Sydney did not approach those at Stockholm or Atlanta he was a clear winner of the event. He regained the world title in 2001 then won his first Commonwealth Games gold medal, at the age of 36, in 2002 but could only finish third at that year's European Championships. He was expected to compete at a fifth Olympics in 2004 but elected to retire after a poor performance at the 2003 World Championships.
Edwards joined the BBC as a member of its' athletics presentation team also fronted some of the company's religious broadcasting. In 2007 he stood down from his role on the TV programme "Songs of Praise" due to what was described as a "crisis of faith" although he continued in his role as a track and field commentator. A graduate in physics from Durham University, Edwards vas voted Britain's Sports Personality of the Year, L'Équipe's International Champion of Champions and the UPI Athlete of the Year in 1995.
Personal Best: TJ – 18.29 (1995).
Athlete Olympic Results Content
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