Through the years of Carl Lewis’ career
At age 17, following his junior year at Willingboro, N.J., High School, Lewis wins the long jump with a wind-aided 25-9 at the National Age Group championships in Memphis, Tenn.
Still 17, he jumps a wind-legal 26-6 at the International Prep Invitational in Napierville, Ill., then a week later is second in the USA outdoor nationals at Walnut, Calif., with a windy 26-6 1/2 and, just turned 18, is third with a wind-legal 26-8 at the Pan American Games. On Easter Sunday, he selected the University of Houston over Tennessee.
A UH freshman, he wins the Southwest Conference indoor long jump with 25-8 1/4 , adds the NCAA indoor (26-4 1/2 ) and NCAA outdoor (windy 27-4 3/4 ) and qualifies for his first Olympic team with a second in the long jump (windy 26-3 1/2 ) at Eugene, Ore. No. 5 in the world rankings. (The USA team did not compete at the Moscow Olympics).
Wins the SWC indoor (27-10 1/4 ) and NCAA indoor long jump (27-10), then reaches 28 feet for the first time (windy 28-3 3/4 ) at the UCLA Pepsi Invitational. At age 19, he wins the first of his six USA outdoor long jumps (28-3 1/2 ), then the World Cup at Rome (26-9) following the NCAA title (27-0 3/4 ) at Baton Rouge, La., where the event was moved indoors because of rain. Ranked No. 1 in the world in both the long jump and 100 meters after winning both the NCAA and USA sprint titles. Voted the Sullivan Award as the USA Amateur Athlete of the Year.
Competing for the Santa Monica Track Club after forgoing his final two years of college eligibility, he wins the USA indoor (28-0 3/4 ) and outdoor long jump (27-10), then lengthens his career best to 28-8 in the USOC Sports Festival at Indianapolis. Again No. 1 world-ranked in the long jump and 100.
Again doubles in the USA indoor (27-4 3/4 ) and outdoor (28-10 1/4 ), then adds the World Championships in the long jump (28-0 3/4 ) and 100 (9.97) to rank No. 1 in the world in the long jump and 100 for the third straight year. Also anchors the winning USA 4×100 relay in the World Championships.
Wins his third USA indoor long jump (27-10 3/4 ), a prelude to matching Jesse Owens’ four Olympic gold medals at the Los Angeles Summer Games. Takes the long jump gold at 28-0 1/4 with his first jump, then fouls and passes his final four attempts with the 200 and 4×100 relay still left. Wins the Olympic 100 in 9.99 and the 200 in 19.80, then anchors a world record 37.83 in the 4×100 relay. No. 1 world-ranked in 100, 200 and long jump.
In an abbreviated post-Olympic season, Lewis jumps past 28 feet four times in four outdoor meets and wins the USA-USSR-Japan triangular meet at 27-2 in Tokyo. Fifth consecutive world No. 1 ranking in both 100 and long jump.
Jumping in only five meets, he wins the USA title (windy 28-5 1/2 ) and the USA 100 meters (windy 9.91).
Wins three World Championships gold medals at Rome — in the 100 (9.93, after Ben Johnson is disqualified for drug usage), long jump (28-5 1/2 , with four wind-legal jumps past 27 feet) and 4×100 relay after winning USA long jump (28-4 1/2 ) and 200 (20.12) and Pan American Games long jump (28-8 1/2 ). No. 1 world-ranked in the long jump and 200.
Wins dramatic Olympic Trials long jump duel in rain with Larry Myricks, 28-9 to 28-8 1/4 , at Indianapolis and also wins the 100 (windy 9.78) and is second in the 200 at the Trials.
Wins second long jump Olympic gold at Seoul, South Korea, at 28-7 1/2 and the 100-meter gold (world record 9.92) when Ben Johnson again is DQed in the 100 for steroid use. Second in the 200 to UH’s Joe DeLoach. No. 1 world-ranked in both the 100 and long jump for the sixth time.
Again with a slimmed down long jump schedule he wins all six meets, including 27-8, 28-0, 28-0 1/4 and 27-6 in his four outdoor meets.
Competes in only two long jumps, winning at Barcelona (27-11) and the Seattle Goodwill Games (27-6) and also wins the USA 100 meters in a low-key season preceding the next World Championships.
At age 30, Lewis proves that reports of his demise in the sport are premature with one of the best seasons of his career.
He wins the USA outdoor long jump (28-4 1/4 ) and is second in the 100 (9.93) to Leroy Burrell’s world record 9.90. The Tokyo World Championships is the stage for yet another superb Lewis performance. He reclaims the 100-meter world record in 9.86 ahead of Burrell (9.88), Dennis Mitchell (9.91) and Linford Christie (9.92). In Lewis’ greatest long jump meet ever, he loses his 65-meet win streak when Mike Powell breaks Bob Beamon’s world record by spanning 29-4 1/2 . Lewis has a windy 29-2 3/4 , wind-legal marks of 29-1 and 29-0, a windy 28-11 3/4 and a legal 28-5 3/4 . Two days later, Lewis anchors a 4×100 relay team of Andre Cason, Burrell and Mitchell to a world record 37.50.
Again proving his resiliency, Lewis has to overcome a disappointing Olympic Trials at New Orleans, where, weakened by a respiratory infection, he fails to qualify for the USA team in the 100 or 200. His second in the long jump at 28-0 gets him on the Olympic team for Barcelona, Spain, where Lewis wins his third Olympic gold in the event at 28-5 1/2 . Then, teaming with Mike Marsh, Burrell and Mitchell two days later, Lewis anchors a world-record 37.40 in the 4×100 relay.
Passing up the long jump this season, Lewis qualifies for the World Championships at Stuttgart, Germany, in both sprints and places fourth in the 100 and third in the 200.
In a relatively light year, competes just twice in the long jump and in a handful of 100-meter races but teams with Marsh, Burrell and Floyd Heard as the Santa Monica Track Club unit sets a world record of 1:18.68 in the 4×200 relay at Walnut, Calif.
Qualifies for the World Championships by placing second (27-8 3/4 windy) in the USA nationals, but an injured hamstring suffered at the Olympic Festival sidelines him for the world meet at Gotenborg, Sweden.
After placing eighth and fifth in the 100 and 200, respectively, at the Olympic Trials, Lewis qualifies for the U.S. team in the long jump by the slimmest of margins, claiming the third and final position by one inch over Mike Conley, 27-2 3/4 to 27-1 3/4 . Two months later at the Games, Lewis wins the long jump gold for the fourth time. His third-round mark of 27-10 3/4 holds up over Jamaican James Beckford (27-2 1/2 ). It is Lewis’ ninth gold medal, equaling the most won by anyone (with Finland’s Paavo Nurmi in track and Larisa Latynina of the Soviet Union in gymnastics) in Olympic competition.
He ends his competitive career at the Aug. 26 Berlin Grand Prix, anchoring the winning 4×100 relay with Donovan Bailey, Burrell and Frank Fredericks. Santa Monica TC teammates Marsh, Burrell and Heard join Lewis for an exhibition 4×100 relay at Robertson Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13, his final race.