Charles Austin’s Guide to Watching the High Jump

The gold medalist offers a cheat sheet on his sport’s rules, maneuvers and slang

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Charles Austin competes in the high jump at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Rick Stewart/Allsport UK/Getty Images

Introducing the Expert

Name: Charles Austin
Games and Medals: Atlanta 1996 (Gold)
Key Quote: “The high jump is a very fun, complex event. It takes not on physical strength but mental strength to be the best you can be.”


The standards: what the bar rests on when the competitors jump

The pit: the big mat the competitors land on


Pass: when a competitor decides to skip a height or attempt his remaining jump at a high height

Approach: the run-up to the bar

Arch: when the competitor lays out over the bar​


Getting ready to bounce: getting ready to jump high

I got hops: the competitor can jump high

Blast: the competitor height over the bar was really good


Number of Jumps: Each competitor gets three jumps at each height.

Height: Competitors can select the heights form the start list they want to jump at. They do not have to jump every height.

Time Limits: Competitors have a time limit for each jump. At the beginning of the competition, each jumper has one minute once his or her name is called by the official. When only two or three jumpers remain in the competition, they have three minutes. When there is only one remaining jumper, this person has five minutes between jumps.

Game Changers

1968: Dick Fosbury introduces the flop technique of the high jump.

1978: The last world record with the Western Roll is set in 1978. Previously the dominant style, most everyone uses the flop now.

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