Long Jump Women's World Records

Galina Chistyakova set the world long jump record in 1988.
Galina Chistyakova set the world long jump record in 1988. Gray Mortimore/Getty Images

The IAAF recognizes women’s long jump world record performances dating back to 1922, although several early marks were originally certified by the Fédération Sportive Féminine Internationale, the former governing body of women’s track and field. In the early years of women’s long jump – which didn’t become an Olympic sport until 1948 – several world record performances represented significant increases from the previous world marks. But in later decades the world record literally inched forward slowly.

Women’s Long Jump Olympic Medalists

Marie Mejzlikova of Czechoslovakia scored the first universally recognized women's long jump world record with a leap of 5.16 meters (16 feet, 11⅛ inches) in 1922, which she increased to 5.30/17-4¾ the following year. Great Britain’s Muriel Gunn and Japan’s Kinue Hitomi exchanged the record back and forth in 1926-28, with Hitomi breaking the 19-foot mark and peaking at 5.98/19-7¼. The versatile Hitomi – who at various times owned world records in the triple jump, the javelin throw, plus the 100-, 200- and 400-meter runs – set her final long jump mark at a Japanese Olympic qualifying event in 1928, although the women’s long jump itself wasn’t part of that year’s Olympics.

Hitomi’s last mark stood for 11 years, until Christel Schultz of Germany soared past the 6-meter and 20-foot barriers, reaching 6.12/20-¾ in 1939. Another multi-talented athlete, Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands, snatched the record in 1943 with a leap measuring 6.25/20-6, giving her simultaneous world marks in the high jump and long jump.

Olympic Long Jump Glory

Blankers-Koen owned the world record for more than 11 years, after which the mark was broken or tied five times from 1954-56. New Zealand’s Yvette Williams began the record-breaking parade by jumping 6.28/20-7 in 1954. Galina Vinogradova of the Soviet Union tied and then broke the record in 1955, topping out at 6.31/20-8¼, before Poland’s Elzbieta Krzesinska twice leaped 6.35/20-10 in 1956, with the latter jump earning her a gold medal at the Melbourne Olympics.

The long jump mark fell six times between 1960-64. East Germany’s Hildrun Claus broke it twice, peaking at 6.42/21-¾ in 1961. Tatyana Shchelkanova of the Soviet Union dented the record books three times, first leaping 6.48/21-3 into a 1.5 mps wind just 23 days after Claus set her second mark, and then topping out at 6.70/21-11¾ in July 1964. Great Britain’s Mary Rand then become the second woman to set a world record at the Olympics, passing the 22-foot mark and reaching 6.76/22-2 in Tokyo in 1964. Rand performed her winning jump on a wet track, with a 1.6 mps wind in her face, to become the first British woman to earn an Olympic track and field gold medal.

Four years to the day after Rand’s victory, Viorica Viscopoleanu of Romania broke the mark at altitude on her way to gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, leaping 6.82/22-4½. Her triumph began an era in which Romanian, German and Soviet athletes exchanged the record back and forth, with one brief exception.

Germans, Romanians, Soviets – and Jackie

West Germany’s Heide Rosendahl took the mark with a jump measuring 6.84/22-5¼ in 1970. She was succeeded by a pair of East Germans in 1976, as Angela Voigt leaped 6.92/22-8¼ on May 9, and then Siegrun Siegl reached 6.99/22-11 on May 19. Lithuanian-born Vilma Bardauskiene, competing for the Soviet Union, cruised past the 7-meter mark and broke the record twice within 11 days in 1978, topping out at 7.09/23-3.

Anisoara Cusmir enjoyed the shortest reign as the long jump record-holder, leaping 7.15/23-5¼ in 1982, before seeing fellow Romanian Valy Ionescu jump 7.20/23-7¼ later the same day. Cusmir regained the record the next year, and then improved it twice at the same meet, peaking at 7.43/24-4½. East Germany’s Heike Drechsler nudged the record up to 7.44 in 1985, and then to 7.45/24-5¼ twice in 1986. That proved a popular distance as two more jumpers hit it during the next two years. Jackie Joyner-Kersee – the only American woman to hold the world long jump record – put her name in the books alongside Drechsler in 1987, and then Galina Chistyakova of the Soviet Union equaled the mark in 1988, in a meet held in St. Petersburg, Russia. Later in the meet, however, the Ukraine-born Chistyakova flew to a new record of 7.52/24-8.

Drechsler almost took the record back at altitude in Sestriere, Italy in 1992, leaping 7.63/25-¼. Unfortunately for Drechsler the wind meter read 2.1 mps, just above the 2-meter limit. As of 2016, Chistyakova remains the all-time long jump queen.