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A competitor in the long jump

The long jump was the only type of jumping contest in the ancient Olympics. It differed vitally from our long jump in that athletes used pairs of weights or halteres, swung forward on take-off and back just before landing, probably as a handicap.

© Trustees of the British Museum

Created by British Museum.

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Video transcript

this particular VARs chose the long jump and in fact it's the best depiction of the ancient long jump that we have the Greeks used weights for this event which seems rather strange to us people tend to say that the weights actually assisted the jumper so that he could jump that little bit further the idea is that he swung the forward on takeoff and then back just before he landed and you had to actually land cleanly on your feet if you landed on any other part of the body then you were disqualified the Greeks didn't preserve records of distances or speeds it doesn't seem to have been that important to them it was the winner at that time who gained all the glory and that that was the important thing but because when you think about it they didn't have the means to record speeds very closely or distances because they couldn't do it anything like a photo finish so it was actually what happened on the day that was important although having said that you can see that beneath the jumper there are actually three pegs now these might either record his previous jumps or they might be the jumps of other competitors but he seems to be doing better than any of them